Michael Mejia, a gang member released from jail ten days earlier, has been identified as the suspect in the killing of a Whittier police officer and the injuring of another in a shootout. Authorities attributed his being on the streets to AB109, a 2011 law signed by the Governor that reduced sentences for habitual felons, and Proposition 47, a 2014 ballot measure that converted drug and theft felonies into misdemeanors. “We need to wake up. Enough is enough,” said Police Chief Jeff Piper.
It wasn’t the first time this happened, according to the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. Habitual felons Trenton Trevon Lovell, who murdered Los Angeles police officer Steve Owen on October 6, 2016, and John Felix, who murdered two Palm Springs police officers on October 8, 2016, were most likely loose on the streets because of AB109 and Proposition 47. Lovell was on parole for a 2009 armed robbery and attending a rehabilitation program for a 2015 drunk driving with injuries conviction when he shot officer Owen five times. Felix had served time in prison for a 2009 attempted murder and was on parole in 2013 when he was convicted for fighting with officers who were looking for his brother. He was convicted of drunk driving the next year.
Prior to the adoption of AB109 and Proposition 47, all three of these criminals could have been sent back to prison for violating parole and for the commission of new crimes. The Foundation has warned that the reduced consequences imposed by these laws is resulting in increased crime.
Data from the FBI Preliminary Crime Report for 2016 indicates that last year violent crime increased in two-thirds of California’s largest cities. The report tracks crimes committed during the first six months of the previous year in U. S. Cities with populations over 100,000. Of the state’s 69 largest cities, 46 had increased violent crime last year. Some cities saw increases of more than 50% in crimes, including murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. In Los Angeles, violent crime rose 16.8% compared to 2015. In 2015, the U. S. Department of Justice reported that violent crime in California increased by 7.6%, two and one-half times the increase nationally.
“Families are losing loved ones and innocent people are being robbed, raped, assaulted, and burglarized by criminals left on the streets under these laws. How many victims will it take before the Legislature and the Governor stop telling us that everything is fine and take real action to restore public safety?” asked Foundation President Michael Rushford.
The FBI Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, January-June 2016 is available at:
The FBI report Crime in the United States 2015 is available at: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015
CJLF President Michael Rushford is available for comment at (916) 446-0345.