A man suspected of killing a Whittier police officer in a shootout Monday, hours after slaying his cousin, was arrested five times in the past seven months while under supervision of county authorities as part of a controversial program many law enforcement agencies blame for an uptick in crime, according to records and authorities.
Michael Christopher Mejia, 26, of Los Angeles, was identified Tuesday as the suspect in the fatal shootings of Whittier police Officer Keith Boyer and 46-year-old Roy Torres, the suspect’s cousin.
Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau said Mejia was released from state prison in April 2016 following a grand theft auto conviction in 2014. He was on county probation under Assembly Bill 109 when he allegedly shot and killed Boyer and Torres and had been arrested multiple times in recent months for violating his probation, Corina told the Orange County Register.
Signed into law in 2011, AB 109 mandated “realignment,” which shifted nonviolent offenders from state prisons to county jails, or placed them on probation under county supervision rather than parole under state supervision. It was a response to a U.S. Supreme Court order declaring the condition of California’s overcrowded prisons as violating the constitutional rights of inmates.