Prosecutor in Williams' case faces suit as cop


By JEREMIAH MARQUEZ
Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES- As he presses for Stanley Tookie Williams' execution for four murders, a top county prosecutor faces his own legal troubles for killing a man while on duty as a reserve sheriff's deputy.

Deputy District Attorney John Monaghan, 53, has urged Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to deny the Crips gang co-founder clemency, saying Williams committed senseless and brutal slayings in Los Angeles County.

Williams is scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday by injection at San Quentin State Prison. Schwarzenegger has yet to decide whether to grant clemency for the 1979 murders.

In February 2003, Monaghan shot and killed an unarmed driver he had pulled over while working as a reserve San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy. The defense argues Monaghan acted in self-defense after a foot chase.

The Sheriff's Department ruled the shooting of Jose Luis Perea, 47, was within the department's policy guidelines, and prosecutors found insufficient evidence to charge Monaghan with a crime. But Perea's family filed a $30 million wrongful death lawsuit.

In September, a federal magistrate judge dismissed much of the lawsuit but let two claims _ excessive force and negligence _ move forward. The court questioned some of Monaghan's account of the shooting.

Monaghan has said that after the traffic stop, he chased Perea through a pallet yard in Fontana. He said he was forced to open fire out of fear the suspect might have a weapon.

The judge was unconvinced.

Although he broke the law by fleeing, Perea was unarmed and did not appear to pose a threat despite his erratic behavior, the judge said.

During the chase, Perea was not running as fast as he could, stopped several times and seemed to be holding up his pants or holding something inside them. He threw an eyeglasses container and then a baseball cap at Monaghan.

"A reasonable officer simply would not believe a fleeing suspect's first choice would be to throw a baseball cap ... if that suspect has a far more deadly weapon, say a gun or even a rock ... ," U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen G. Larson wrote.

Monaghan's defense attorney, Eugene Ramirez, argued that the actions and background of Perea, a parolee who might have had personal problems, suggest he was attempting to commit "suicide by cop."

"All of that seemed to indicate that he was going to do what he could to engage law enforcement in a shooting," Ramirez said, adding his client could not see Perea's hands when he fired.

Monaghan worked as a San Bernardino County prosecutor before joining the Los Angeles County office. He was not available for comment, Jane Robison, a district attorney's spokeswoman, said Friday.

Calls to the plaintiff's attorney over the weekend were not returned.

In arguing against clemency, Monaghan has labeled Williams a "cold-blooded killer" and said he does not believe Williams has redeemed himself.

Williams, 51, was convicted of killing Yen-I Yang, 76, Tsai-Shai Chen Yang, 63, and Yu-Chin Yang Lin, 43, in a robbery at a Los Angeles motel the family owned. Albert Owens, 26, a 7-Eleven clerk, was gunned down in a separate robbery.

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