We’re not against the police. We’re not against the police department, but we are against police who commit misconduct (and those who help cover it up).

Now that the cat is out of the bag on the plea deal for Los Angeles Police Officer Richard Garcia in the 2014 beating of Clinton Alford, as expected and almost on cue the victim blaming has commenced. Why? Because it is a time-honored tradition for the Los Angeles Police Department to engage in what I refer to as character assassination to deflect—and they don’t do it alone. Oftentimes in L.A., the police are assisted by the District Attorney’s office and occasionally the mainstream news media in said victim blaming.

Since the October 2014 beating of then 22-year-old Clinton Alford, Alford has been re-arrested and his facing felony criminal charges including human trafficking, rape and assault with a deadly weapon. He was picked up last November and remains in custody.

I’m no fan of pimps, pimping, rape or assaults—especially those with deadly weapons. But Alford’s current criminal charges are unrelated and have nothing at all to do with his October 16, 2014 beating on 55th Street near Avalon Boulevard in South Los Angeles. Nothing.

However, that hasn’t stopped those from within the LAPD and Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office from making sure that the story of the plea deal for the officer charged in Alford’s beating is tainted with Alford’s current criminal charges with the news media eagerly taking the bait.

Officer Richard Garcia, who was charged with assault under color of authority and facing up to three years in state prison, was allowed to plead on the low to a lesser charge thus avoiding jail time. Under the terms of the agreement, Garcia will perform 300 hours of community and make a financial donation to an organization before May 2017 and then he can withdraw his plea, plead to a misdemeanor and be placed on two years probation.

This was all done on the low and out of the public eye. Unlike when charges were initially filed, this time around there was no pomp and circumstance, there were no press releases. It was clear by their actions that the District Attorney’s office did not want the public to know about the plea deal.

That’s the issue. Not the fact that Alford has been re-arrested.

What the District Attorney’s office and LAPD are trying to do is deflect from their exposed actions and soften the blow. They’re hoping that reporters will be so fascinated and distracted by the fact that Clinton Alford is facing serious criminal charges that they’ll be too blind to realize that one situation has nothing to do with the other. I’ve seen it work before.

I mean think about it. All of this time nothing. This plea deal happened in May. It’s August. The Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter all but seemingly forgot about Clinton Alford—perhaps because he didn’t die and their focus seems to be more on those who are actually killed by the police as opposed to just beaten. Yet, for all of the activists screaming about wanting to see officers charged, they dropped the ball on the one officer still facing criminal charges arising from police brutality.

The well resourced and staffed news media appointed to cover both the District Attorney’s office and the LAPD weren’t at all concerned about this case until it popped up on my blog.

For the most part, this case, as significant as it is, dropped off of everyone’s radar. And it’s still not over just because the plea deal has been exposed.

There is still the business of that video that needs to be addressed.

There is a video of the beating that Clinton Alford took. The video was commandeered by the LAPD as I explained previously. A federal magistrate placed a protective order on the video at the behest of the City Attorney, District Attorney and LAPD.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck put the hiding of the video from the public off on D.A. Lacey saying she “has been very, very clear that she does not want that video out there.” Releasing the footage before the officer’s trial, Beck said, could taint the jury pool or “otherwise interfere” with the case.

“My desire here is justice,” Beck told reporters. “I know that there are other things that could be met by the release of the video…. But I want to get justice. And I think that’s what this city deserves.

Well the case was over pretrial so release the damn video.

I believe that Lacey and Beck are hoping that the media, activists and general public get so bogged down in the fact Alford is in jail again that they forget that they are holding the video that shows exactly what Officer Garcia and others did to Clinton Alford.

Quoted in the Los Angeles Times today, Lacey said “I understand how in looking at the final result, someone may think that it wasn’t a just sentence. But they simply don’t have all the information that we did when we made the final decision.”

Well tell us then and don’t say it has to do with Alford’s current criminal case because prosecutors hall witnesses in orange jumpsuits into court and onto the witness stand on a daily basis.

Today there’s plenty of anger directed at District Attorney Jackie Lacey but it’s too little too late in my opinion.

In a city that has more than its fair share of attorneys, Lacey ran unopposed this past June for reelection. Unopposed. And this was AFTER she declined to press charges on CHP Officer Daniel Andrew for that gruesome freeway beating of Marlene Pinnock.

If the public is concerned about Lacey’s decision making skills they need to speak up on two items.

One, demand the public release of the Clinton Alford video. Two, demand that Lacey make a decision on whether or not she’s filing criminal charges against one or both of the officers involved in the August 11, 2014 fatal shooting of Ezell Ford. It’s been two years already.

I’ll bet Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer thinks the public eye is off of him and his $50k payday to disgraced former LAPD detective Frank Lyga–but nah we’re still talking about that too.

Questions, comments or concerns?

Oscar Plascencia
Deputy District Attorney
for Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey
(213) 974-5054
(213) 974-3888