A district attorney hopeful is under fire for reportedly saying that cop killers don’t deserve the death penalty because “it’s part of the risk they take.”
Lawrence Strauss, one of three candidates for Contra Costa County District Attorney, allegedly made the controversial comment during an April 24 forum at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek, California. East Bay Times reported that Strauss, interim district attorney Diana Becton, and senior deputy district attorney Paul Graves were asked if they would pursue the death penalty for a cop killer—and Strauss was the only one to give a direct answer.
“I feel sorry for the officer. It’s part of the risk they take as being an officer of the law,” Strauss said, adding that the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing, which killed 168, would be a death penalty case he would pursue.
According to the newspaper, he said he trained police officers as a prosecutor in Hawaii and warned them to always be cautious during traffic stops as a gun could be pulled out at any time.
Strauss’ response didn’t go over well with the police union, with Richmond Police Officer’s Association president Ben Therriault calling his comments “tone-deaf.”
“Law enforcement officers are hired to ensure the public’s safety and enforce the constitution and laws of the state. We are not pawns for a brutal dictator,” Costa County Sheriff Sgt. Sean Welch, president of the agency’s union, also told the newspaper.
“Strauss’ performance last night should have made it clear to anyone voting in the primary election that he should not even be on the ballot for district attorney.”
East Bay Times reported that Becton and Graves agreed to confer to a committee when considering death penalty cases; Graves noted that the death penalty is reserved for “the most heinous crimes” while Becton said yes to the question, stating that “heinous crimes” like cop killing would be eligible for the death penalty as it’s the law of the land.
In light of the backlash, Strauss issued a two-page statement to East Bay Times where he clarified his previous comments. It reads in part:
I have responded to many questionnaires that inquire whether or not I would seek to abolish the death penalty. My response is always the same: I believe that the death penalty should only be sought in mass murders, serial killers, and multiple victims. There is no redemption for these psychopathic criminals…To the contrary, the default position when a criminal murders a single police officer with no other victims should be life without the possibility of parole.
The Contra Costa County District Attorney election will occur on June 5.
[Featured Image: Lawrence Strauss/Facebook]