LA County DA halts efforts to charge gang member suspected of murder as adult; boasted about gang in custody

LA County DA halts efforts to charge gang member suspected of murder as adult; boasted about gang in custody

The office of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon has reportedly halted efforts to prosecute a gang member accused of murder as an adult despite the viciousness of the crime and him claiming allegiance to the gang while in juvenile detention.

The move by Gascon is one of a number of new reforms that have won favor with criminal justice advocates and angered prosecutors, law enforcement and victims’ rights advocates. 

Jalen Yoakum was 17-years-old when he allegedly gunned down Ontario Courtney, 40, when Courtney’s car broke down in South Los Angeles in September 2017, FOX Los Angeles reported. While waiting for assistance, members of a local street gang shot Courtney mulitple times, prosecutors said. 

George Gascón speaks after he was sworn in as Los Angeles district attorney in Los Angeles. (Bryan Chan/County of Los Angeles via AP, File)

Yoakum was one of the alleged shooters, authorities said. He was initially set to be prosecuted as an adult under former District Attorney Jackie Lacey. Upon taking office last year, Gascon unveiled a series of reforms that included ending the charging of juvenile suspects as adults. 

Gascon withdrew a motion filed by his predecessor’s office to prosecute Yoakum as an adult and withdrew gang and gun enhancements against him. 

“And so we’re like, with all this evidence, it should be easy to transfer him to adult court,” Ontario’s sister, Aja Courtney told the news outlet. “And we’re right at the point when we were gonna do the transfer hearing when Gascón comes in and he’s like, this stops immediately.


In his first 100 days, Gascon’s office has withdrawn 77 motions to transfer minors to adult court. He has touted his reforms as a way to reduce recidivism and other inequities in the criminal justice system. 

“I have instituted a series of reforms based on data and science that will enhance safety while reducing racial disparities and the misuse of incarceration,” he said last week. “Our efforts to transform a dated approach that creates more crime, victims and inequities are just beginning.”

Prosecutors said Yoakum has continued to claim his allegiance to the gang on social media while in Juvenile detention. 

Several photos posted by the news station appear to show Yoakum flashing gang signs and holding guns. One was captioned: “They can’t hold da crip forever,” referring to his gang affiliation.

Gascon’s office did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.  

Yoakum pleaded guilty to the murder charge earlier this month and is expected to be released from prison by age 25 because he is being charged as a minor. FOX LA reports.  


“They’re basically telling you that we’re gonna treat these juveniles like victims, your brother is no longer the victim,” Aja Courtney said. “It’s not just a slap in the face, it’s a danger to the community, when you really look at Gascon’s policy, several of his policies he says he’s addressing public safety, well if he cared about public safety, you wouldn’t put these guys back on the streets.”

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