Attorney Lawrence Strauss, a district attorney candidate, is under fire for saying cop killers shouldn't get the death penalty. (Walnut Creek TV)
A candidate for a district attorney seat in California is taking heat for saying cop killers don’t deserve the death penalty because “it’s part of the risk [police officers] take.”
Attorney Lawrence Strauss — who made the comments at an April 24 forum for the June Contra Costa County District Attorney election — was criticized by local police union presidents, one of whom said Strauss’ comments were “archaic” and “extremely inappropriate,” The Mercury News reported.
“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,” said Contra Costa County Sheriff Sgt. Sean Welch, president of the agency’s officer union. “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.”
During the forum, Strauss, who noted that he trained cops to act with caution on duty as a prosecutor in Hawaii, said people who kill single officers shouldn’t be death-penalty eligible.
“I feel sorry for the officer. It’s part of the risk they take as being an officer of the law,” Strauss said during the forum, adding when an officer is murdered it affects not only his family, but “a nationwide network of police officers.”
The attorney who has operated a private practice for 23 years cited the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing as an example of a death penalty case he would support, according to the paper.
Officer Ben Therriault, president of the Richmond Police Officer’s Association, called Strauss “tone-deaf” about public safety: “The men and women in our profession don’t sign up to be hurt or killed or receive less justice than our fellow citizens we protect.”
According to his response to a candidate questionnaire, The News reported, Strauss’ priorities are ending “wealth-based disparities” and excessive sentences as well as invalidating the war on drugs; he also stands for increasing transparency and accountability, and promoting policies “that aid undocumented communities.”
Two days after the forum, Strauss put out a two-page written statement thanking police officers for their service, and noted that people who kill single officers should receive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
“The death penalty is always a controversial subject. There is no right or wrong position. Most of the industrialized world has abolished the death penalty. The United States is the leader in seeking the death penalty. It takes decades to execute an individual and at great expense to the taxpayers,” Strauss said in the statement. “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.”