The widow of an El Monte police sergeant killed in an ambush has filed a $25 million claim against Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón.
The claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, claims the killer of Sgt. Michael Paredes should have been incarcerated at the time because of his prior criminal record. The claim alleges wrongful death and emotional distress.
Janine Paredes and her attorney, Michael J. Peacock, scheduled a news conference Tuesday morning to discuss the claim.
The 42-year-old Paredes and his partner, Officer Joseph Santana, 31, were ambushed and killed by Justin Flores when responding to a call at the Siesta Inn Motel on June 14. The claim includes a list of Flores’ prior convictions, which include vehicle theft, resisting arrest and burglary.
“For reasons currently unknown and with overwhelming indifference, Justin Flores was allowed to continue his rampage of criminal violence against the unsuspecting people, including two dedicated police officers,” said Janine Paredes’ attorney, Mark Peacock. “The District Attorney’s Office and the county Probation Department created an opportunity for an already violent man to take the life of Michael Paredes, a beloved husband, father, friend, son and police officer. To call this a tragically negligent decision by the D.A. is an understatement.”
LA County District Attorney George Gascón speaks out about the shooting deaths of two police officers in El Monte. Lauren Coronado reports June 21, 2022.
The claim alleges that despite Flores’ extensive criminal record, instead of being in custody he was instead allowed to “freely roam and prey on unsuspecting residents and workers in El Monte” because of Gascon’s progressive policies.
A day before the fatal shootings, Flores’ probation officer filed for a revocation of his probation because Flores allegedly assaulted his girlfriend the week prior, yet Flores was still not taken into custody, the claim alleges.
Flores’ mother called her son’s probation officer in June to let the officer know her son had begun using drugs again, the claim states.
Flores, 35, died by suicide on the sidewalk outside the motel.
“Our hearts go out to the family of Sgt. Paredes,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. “His tragic murder is a devastating loss to both his family, friends and the community he bravely served. We have nothing but empathy for those who are suffering. We were not informed that Sgt. Paredes’s widow intended to file a lawsuit against our office. We have not reviewed the legal documents and cannot comment at this time. Again our heart goes out to the victims of this horrific tragedy.”
In a July interview with NBCLA, Gascón said his office tried to contact the families of two slain El Monte Police officers shortly after the shootings but that his office was “walled off” from talking with them.
“The family is in pain, and I understand the narrative they have been given. Unfortunately this got politicized almost immediately,” Gascón said in a broadcast television interview.