Following the execution of his cousin, a California gang member killed a police officer, left another person dead and wounded another cop.
Now, he will spend the rest of his life in prison.
This month, Superior Court Judge Roger Ito sentenced Michael Christopher Mejia, 30, to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the shooting deaths of Whittier Police Officer Keith Boyer, 53 and Roy Torres, 47, and the attempted murder of Whittier Police Officer Patrick Hazell.
Mejia was convicted for two counts of first-degree murder and one count each of attempted murder, carjacking and possession of a firearm by a felon.
In addition, the jury found true special circumstance allegations of murder for the purpose of avoiding arrest and multiple murders, murder of a peace officer in the performance of his duties and true gang and gun allegations.
In the early hours on Feb. 2017, Torres had been shot at point-blank range in the head after a confrontation with Mejia at his converted garage home. Torres’ girlfriend told investigators she arrived to find the defendant counting to 10 to execute Torres but shot him in the head at the eight count instead. Next, the defendant asked her for the keys to the victim’s 2001 Dodge Stratus.
A couple of hours later, Mejia was involved in a three-car crash at the intersection of Mar Vista Street and Colina Road.
Boyer and Hazell responded to the scene of the accident and discovered the Dodge Stratus had been reported stolen. Soon, a shootout ensued.
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Mejia shot both officers killing Boyer, and wounding Hazell in the abdomen. Another officer at the scene returned fire at the defendant, emptying all 14 bullets in his gun clip and wounding the defendant, who surrendered immediately.
"It's extremely difficult every day for everybody that works here, especially for a large team of officers that were there, that tended to him as he died on the street that he protected for so many years. His picture is up, his locker is decorated, a memorial is there and it's on our mind every single day. It's on the mind of every single officer who goes on patrol, not just in our department, but anywhere in the county, that the dangers are out there," said Whittier Police Chief Aviv Bar, who was at the sentencing hearing, according to Fox 11.
The slain officer's family members and colleagues expressed their anger and frustration at the Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, who is a proponent against the death penalty.
Earlier in the year, Gascón established no case would receive such resolution during his term in office, despite the objections from two of his prosecutors. The move stemmed from his stance of the real risk of executing innocent people and the high cost of upkeep of death row inmates.
However, Ito agreed with the prosecution and the pleas from family and friends who were represented in large numbers at the courthouse during the victim impact statement.
“I can’t imagine a more extreme situation for first-degree murder. The defendant has not shown remorse. He is not contrite. He is quite proud. It is extraordinary to the court that level of callousness. I’m going to sentence you to the max,” said Ito, according to Mercury News.
Also, the judge sentenced the defendant to additional 115 years to life and 34 years and four months for the other charges.
Boyer was a 27-year veteran of the police force and a father of three children.
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