Los Angeles County taxpayers could be on the hook to pay for the funeral of a man who allegedly killed two police officers, according to a former L.A. County district attorney.
But controversial Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón says the rumors are not true.
What is going on?
Gascón found himself at the center of controversy yet again this week after 35-year-old Justin Flores allegedly shot and killed two El Monte police officers on Tuesday night. Flores was also killed in the shootout.
Last year, prosecutors allowed Flores to avoid prison time after he was arrested for possession of a handgun and ammunition. The problem was that Flores was a convicted felon, having served two prison stints for non-violent offenses, and had been barred from possessing a firearm since 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Instead of going to prison, prosecutors allowed Flores to plead guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon. He was sentenced to probation and time served.
From the L.A. Times:
Though the gun conviction alone could have sent him to prison for three years, Flores was instead sentenced to two years’ probation and 20 days in jail, which he’d already served, a prosecutor said at a plea hearing. Flores was ordered not to possess any weapons, including guns, ammunition and knives, a transcript of the hearing shows. He was warned that if he breached these terms, he could be sent to prison for up to three years.
Despite Flores' criminal history, former L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley told the New York Post that taxpayers could be on the hook for Flores' funeral costs.
Cooley pointed to a directive that Gascón issued stating the Bureau of Victim Services, a department in the DA's office, will "contact the families of individuals killed by police and provide support services including funeral, burial and mental health services immediately following the death regardless of the state of the investigation or charging decision."
"Now it looks like Gascon will pay for the funeral of the man who murdered the the two El Monte officers," Cooley said. "He said his office, through the Victims’ Program, would pay for the cost of burial and counseling of the families of anyone killed by police officers."
What did Gascón say?
The L.A. County DA's office released a statement Thursday denying the charge, saying that Flores does not qualify for the benefit.
"There have been rumors surfacing today that the DA's office will pay for the funeral services for the person responsible for the murders of two El Monte police officers. Those rumors are unfounded and incredible disrespectful to the families and colleagues of the two fallen officers," the statement said.
"We also hope people will stop playing politics with trauma and that we can all get serious about how we prevent serious violence before it begins," the statement added.
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