A local police chief in Los Angeles has blamed the state’s recent “criminal justice reforms” - specifically the widespread release of convicted criminals from state prisons to reduce "overcrowding" - for the murder of a 27-year veteran police officer.
Officer Keith Boyer, 53, was shot and killed by Michael Mejia - a 26-year-old said to be a gang member by local authorities - on Monday after responding to a car accident. Boyer’s partner Officer Patrick Hazell was also wounded by gunfire. Earlier that day, Mejia is said to have murdered his 46-year-old cousin Ray Torres. Mejia then stole Torres’s car, caused a car accident, and opened fire on responding officers. Mejia was shot during the event and subsequently hospitalized for wounds.
Mejia was previously convicted of grand theft auto and released on probation. He had been arrested five times in the past seven months for probation violations, each time being subsequently released after days of being held by authorities.
Michael Mejia is shown in a inmate photo from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Michael Mejia is seen in a booking photo released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office.
“We need to wake up. Enough is enough,” said Whittier Police Department Chief Jeff Piper. “You’re passing these propositions, you’re creating these laws that is raising crime, and it’s not good for our communities and it’s not good for officers. What you have today is an example of that.”
Piper was pointing to recent moves by California’s state government to release convicted criminals for the purpose of reducing “overcrowding” in its prisons. In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that the volume of persons incarcerated in the state’s prisons amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Don Knabe, a former Los Angeles County supervisor, shared Piper’s criticisms of California’s “criminal justice reform:" "Everybody wanted to be a good friend, but now we're paying the price. People are slipping through the cracks. It's not five out of seven, or five out of 10 - it's one out of 25, it's one out of 50, it's one out of 100. But what happens? You have another murder today."
Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) signed Assembly Bills (AB) 109 and 117 into law in 2011, with California’s official communication describing the moves as “historic legislation… to close the revolving door of low-level inmates cycling in and out of state prisons.”
Although describing AB 109 and 117 as part of a “realignment,” the laws reclassify what the state government describes as “non-serious, non-violent or non-sexual offenses” to allow the transfer of prisoners convicted of such offenses to county custody.
On Tuesday, the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation claimed that Mejia was not released early from prison.
Boyer was a father of two adult sons and a daughter.
WHITTIER, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Los Angeles County Firefighters salute as hearse carrying slain Whittier police officer Keith Boyer arrives at Rose Hill Memorial Park & Mortuaries in Whittier. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
WHITTIER, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Downey police officers pay their respect at a makeshift memorial for slain Whittier police officer Keith Boyer in front of police station. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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