The former prosecutor who Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón wants to hire to review a series of police shootings was part of the team that convicted two cops for violating Rodney King’s constitutional rights during the infamous 1991 beating.
Gascón asked the LA County Board of Supervisors to authorize his hiring of Lawrence Middleton as a special prosecutor to determine whether criminal charges are warranted in a series of police-involved shootings, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Middleton, a retired judge and former assistant US attorney, would be hired “to assist the D.A. in investigating, providing recommendations, and prosecuting cases of police misconduct at the direction of the D.A.,” Gascón wrote in a letter to the board. Separately, he named four cases from 2015 through 2018 he wants reviewed first.
The special appointment was necessary, Gascón said, to “promote public confidence,” in the DA’s role in evaluating the legality of police shootings, according to NBC4 Los Angeles.
Gascón, who was elected in November, pledged to review more than 600 police shootings dating back to 2012 for possible prosecution, LAist reported. A Use of Force Review Board working with the University of California Irvine is working its way through those cases to see if any should be reopened.
The moves are aimed at fulfilling Gascón’s campaign promise to address criticism from Black Lives Matter and other activists over the DA’s office’s history of declining to prosecute police officers involved in shootings.