Sloppy L.A. County Blamed for Four Murders
LOS ANGELES (CN) - Los Angeles County's failure to keep tabs on violent felons released to relieve prison overcrowding led to the shooting deaths of four people, their survivors claim in court.
Ka Pasasouk, a "highly dangerous" felon, shot to death Amanda Ghosshein, Roberto Navales, Teofilo Banayos, and Jennifer Kim "execution style" on Dec. 2, 2012, after they visited a Northridge boarding house to pick up a friend, the victims' families say in Superior Court.
The wives, children and families of the victims say Pasasouk had been released from prison under California Assembly Bill 109, a prison realignment program created to tackle the chronic problem of California's jam-packed prisons.
The law was enacted to address the U.S. Supreme Court 2011 ruling in Brown v. Plata, which found that prison overcrowding violated prisoners' Eighth Amendment protections from cruel and unusual punishment.
Because all counties are required to classify and supervise felons released to the streets, Los Angeles County received extra money to help it create a classification system to supervise released inmates, according to the complaint.
"On information and belief Los Angeles received these funds but did not classify nor implement a 'strict supervision' program," the complaint states.
Despite his violent history and robbery and drug convictions, Pasasouk was not classified as a dangerous felon nor placed under strict supervision, the families claim. They say that if the county had followed the "mandatory provisions" of the law their loved ones might be alive today.
Released from prison two years ago, Pasasouk failed to show up for meetings with his probation officer in the first months of his release but no one tried to locate him, the families say in the lawsuit.
After he was arrested for drug possession, the county told a judge that instead of going back into custody, Pasasouk should be sent to drug rehab, according to the complaint.
Probation supervision began in November 2012. But Pasasouk quickly violated his probation when he failed to show up for the drug diversion program, the families say.
"Probation took no action to locate him, have a warrant issued for his arrest or anything as required by the court and the mandatory provisions of A.B. 109," the complaint states.
Pasasouk had found a room in an illegal boarding house, got ahold of a gun and was taking drugs again, the families say.
A month later, Ghosshein, Navales, Banayos and Kim encountered the "drug crazed" Pasasouk when they went to the boarding house to pick up a friend, who they planned to take to Las Vegas for his birthday, according to the lawsuit.
"Pasasouk accosted them with a handgun. forced them to their knees and began executing them for a wrongfully held belief that they had stolen his property," the complaint states.
The families say the county is liable for failing to train deputies "in the placement of violent felons in a drug diversion program."
They seek damages, punitive damages and costs for violation of the 14th Amendment, violation of mandatory duty, violation of custom, policy and practice, and premises liability.
Pasasouk is awaiting trial.
Named as defendants are Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, District Attorney Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles County Probation Department, and Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers.
The plaintiffs are represented by Danilo Becerra of San Gabriel.