The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on Friday denied it had been asked to consider criminal charges for the robbery and murder of off-duty LAPD officer Fernando Arroyos, who was shot and killed during a shootout with alleged gang members Monday in a South Los Angeles area. neighbourhood.
The prosecution said in an email that it had never been consulted about possible criminal charges before the LA County Sheriff’s Department, which is investigating the murder, presented its evidence to the US Attorney’s Office, which announced Thursday that the four arrested in the case will face would face federal charges of racketeering that could carry the death penalty.
“We were informed that the matter had been referred to federal authorities, who were filing charges. As such, we have not had the opportunity to review the case,” said Alex Bastian, special counsel to prosecutor George Gascón.
Multiple law enforcement sources disputed the prosecutor’s account, telling the NBC4 IT team that while there may have been no formal presentation of evidence, earlier this week there were numerous discussions between investigators and the district attorney’s office staff about the facts of the case and the possible charges. .
“Well, we certainly had discussions with the local district attorney. And their response was not satisfactory given the gravity of the situation,” LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters at a news conference Thursday night.
Fernando Arroyos, 27, a three-year veteran of the LAPD, was gunned down around 9:15 p.m. Monday during an apparent gun battle involving as many as three suspects in armed robbery in the unincorporated Firestone-Florence neighborhood. Robert Kovacik reports for NBC4 News on Wednesday, January 12, 2022.
Villanueva said his detectives chose to refer the case to federal prosecutors because the DA would refuse to file certain improvements under California law that would increase the severity of the sentence for anyone convicted of the murder.
The LA County DA’s Office has a unit dedicated to investigating and prosecuting assaults on law enforcement called “CAPOS,” or Crimes Against Police Officers.
The unit sent two of its accusers to the scene of Arroyos’ murder, and members of the unit took part in discussions Tuesday and Wednesday about gathering the evidence needed to file state criminal charges, the sources said. to NBCLA.
When he took office a year ago, Gascón passed a number of reforms aimed at reducing many criminal penalties, including general injunctions banning prosecutors from filing most sentencing improvements, which could extend jail terms when crimes involve gangs, weapons, repeat offenders. whether special categories of criminals are involved. victims.
“I believe their plan was just to prosecute a simple murder with no weapons upgrades, no gang upgrades, nothing. And that didn’t really cover the depravity of this crime,” Villanueva said.
Arroyos died at St. Francis Medical Center after he was gunned down Monday night on the 1700 block of E. 87th Street while looking for a home for sale with his girlfriend.
Federal charges filed Thursday charged three men and a woman with participating in the robbery and murder of Arroyos to promote “Florencia 13,” a multi-generational street gang previously the target of federal organized crime investigations.