(The Center Square) – The Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon’s office is reviewing its prior decision to not pursue felony charges against a homeless man videotaped attempting to rape a passing woman in broad daylight. Following significant media coverage, and a letter from the local city attorney requesting a felony charge, the district attorney is now reviewing further evidence and a witness who was located after the office’s initial decision as it seeks to make a “provable” case, suggesting it did not find the video footage to be sufficient for conviction.
On October 20, a woman walking in Long Beach passed a homeless man sitting on a sidewalk. After she walked by, he stood up, and with his pants unzipped, quickly rushed up to her, lifted up her skirt, and pressed his genitals onto her. He then pushed her onto the ground, at which point a man sitting in front of the scene stood up and approached, at which point the homeless individual fled and was arrested soon thereafter.
The district attorney’s office then reviewed the case and decided it would not file felony charges based on the available evidence and witnesses at the time.
On October 24, the Long Beach Police Department presented its case to the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office, after which the LBCP filed a sexual battery misdemeanor charge, the most serious crime it can charge given that the city charter prevents it from pursuing felony charges — only the LADA can file felony charges for cases like these. The city prosecutor then requested bail be set at $150,000, given the graveness of the individual’s actions and his prior police record, but the judge reduced it to $75,000.
On October 25, ABC 7 Eyewitness News covered the story in a segment on serial violence near Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority train stops in the area where homeless individuals are forced to disembark at night as the trains shut down. On October 30, Long Beach police requested the district attorney’s office review its decision. The next day, Fox 11 News ran a story on the incident, and the day after that, ABC produced another video segment following up on the story that has since received over half a million views on X, and shared that the district attorney is reviewing its earlier decision.
“It shouldn’t take the Long Beach City Attorney, the victim, the media and public outcry to force the DA to file appropriate charges in a sexual assault where a vulnerable and innocent Angeleno is victimized in broad daylight,” said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami, who is running against Gascon in the 2024 election. “Everyone deserves equal justice.”
Meanwhile, the district attorney’s office claims it is conducting its review based on “additional information.”
“We received a correspondence from the Long Beach City Prosecutor sharing his opinion on the matter,” said district attorney’s office in a statement to The Center Square. “The case was carefully reviewed previously; however, based on additional information, the head deputy of our Sex Crimes Division will review the evidence and interview a witness that was located AFTER our initial decision was made to determine whether any felony charges are provable.”
The arrested individual remains in custody in lieu of bail until his November 8 pretrial hearing.