Prosecutors Will Seek Death Penalty for Gang Member Who Killed California Police Officer

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against an admitted gang member accused of killing his cousin before fatally shooting one Whittier police officer and wounding another, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office announced Friday.

Michael C. Mejia, 27, a convicted felon with a history of drug possession and violent criminal activity, is accused of killing his cousin, Roy Torres, in East Los Angeles last February before fleeing with Torres’ car and crashing into two other vehicles at a Whittier intersection.

When police Officers Keith Boyer, 53, and Patrick Hazell arrived at the scene of the accident and ordered Mejia out of his car, he opened fire on them, prosecutors said.

Mejia killed Boyer and wounded Hazell, authorities said. Mejia was wounded during the gun battle.

He was charged with two counts of murder and one count each of attempted murder, carjacking and possession of a firearm by a felon, authorities said. He also faces special circumstance allegations of multiple murders, the murder of a police officer and murder to escape arrest, making him eligible for the death penalty.

Mejia is being held without bail and was ordered to return to court April 6 for a pretrial hearing.

After the shooting, Mejia was taken to a hospital and initially booked for violating probation. At the time of the killings, he was under the supervision of the L.A. County Probation Department. Mejia had been jailed and released for violating probation five times since the summer of 2016.

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SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, Sarah Parvini