On December 10, 2009, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputy Maria Gascon pulled over a Mercury Cougar in Victorville, but the driver, Dameyion Kennedy, a 36-year-old Crip gang member (see below) sped off. Kennedy drove through the streets of Victorville and then made a sudden stop. At that point, Deputy Gascon saw the driver open his door and stick out a gun. She heard gunshots as she quickly ducked. When she sat back up, she noticed a bullet hole on the windshield right in front of where her face would have been (see above).
Criminals who assault peace officers represent a threat not only to the officer, but also to the safety of the entire community, and to the foundations of our criminal justice system. However, the culture of the criminal justice system has at times failed to treat law enforcement officer victims with the consideration and attention they deserve.
A study by the Violence Against Law Enforcement Officer Research Center (VALOR) revealed several problems common to criminal justice systems including an attitude by some that an officer being assaulted or abused is “just part of the job,” felony crimes against peace officers being issued as misdemeanors, crimes against peace officers being the first charges to be dropped in plea bargaining, cases being settled without the officer’s knowledge or input, and peace officer victims not receiving the same victim services as civilian victims.
The Crimes Against Peace Officers (CAPO) Prosecution Unit has been created to change this culture in our criminal justice system and ensure that we are doing everything possible to deter, prosecute, and punish those who attack, threaten, or interfere with our law enforcement officers.