By the Association of Deputy District Attorneys
George Gascón’s continued refusal to hold criminals accountable has repeatedly resulted in deadly consequences for residents of Los Angeles County. For Asian residents, this subversion of the criminal justice system has resulted in tragedies such as the murder of Dal Kuen Lee.
Dal Kuen Lee is the latest Asian victim of Gascón’s policies, randomly stabbed in the neck and killed on May 5, 2022, while sitting in his work truck in South LA. The defendant, Keonte Woods, is a known violent criminal, having been arrested the previous week for an unprovoked attempted stabbing of another Asian man near USC.
In that prior case, Woods tried to stab the Asian victim in the neck. The victim’s hand was sliced as he tried to protect himself. Yet, because of Gascón’s policies, felony charges requested by LAPD were rejected, and the case was referred to the City Attorney for misdemeanor charges. Only after Mr. Lee was murdered did the DA reclaim the case and file felony charges for the first knife attack by Mr. Woods.
Sadly, the murder of Dal Kuen Lee is not the only recent example of anti-Asian hate. Nicholas Weber was arrested this month for assaulting and harassing a Filipino family at a McDonald’s drive-through in May.
“Filipinos will not stay quiet while our community suffers the pain of anti-Asian hate and attacks. As Asian-Americans, we must take a stand for justice and demand more than dialogues and empty promises. The Roque family is now facing the possibility that their attacker, Nicholas Weber, will be released on July 11. They should not have to live in fear that what happened to them will happen again. They should not have to continue to experience justice delayed. District Attorney Gascón’s words mean nothing to the community unless they are backed up by action – we need to see firm leadership that takes anti-Asian hate crimes seriously, and that includes timely prosecution of Nicholas Weber,” said Katie Joaquin of the Filipino Migrant Center.
“Other prosecution offices have had to step in to fill the void caused by Gascon’s policies,” said Eric Siddall, Vice President of the ADDA. For example, Steve Lee Dominguez was caught on camera driving through protesters at a “Stop Asian Hate” rally. When no charges were filed by Gascón, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California secured a federal grand jury indictment against Dominguez on two counts of bias-motivated interference with federally protected activities.
“Anti-Asian hate has no place in our community,” said Siddall. “Yet, Gascón has made clear since taking office that reducing accountability for those who commit crimes and reversing punishment for those already serving prison sentences are his priorities. Los Angeles has become less safe under Gascón.”
It should be remembered that a criminal complaint merely contains allegations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
About the author: The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is the collective bargaining agent and represents over 800 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.