The Office of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón has continued to tout its prosecutions of sworn police officers for shootings as evidence that Gascón has been a stalwart on police accountability. But the cases have rarely resulted in significant, if any, time incarcerated for those officers. 

In his term, Gascón has overseen the prosecution of 8 police officers charged in six shootings, according to the District Attorney’s office. So far, that has resulted in a single conviction. In January, Andrew Lyons, a former deputy sheriff, was convicted in the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old father of three, Ryan Twyman. 

A second deputy, Remin Pineda, is currently facing charges brought against him for his part in the killing of 34-year-old David Ordaz, Jr. 

Lyons was sentenced to a mere 30 days in the LA County Jail and two years of probation for assault with a firearm and assault under color of authority. He served just 12 days. It’s the first time in about 20 years that a policing agent in LA County has been sentenced to jail or prison for an on-duty shooting. 

The sentence was the result of a plea deal hammered out between Lyons’ defense team and the district attorney’s office. In exchange for a no-contest plea to assault with a firearm and assault under color of authority, the DA’s office dropped charges of voluntary manslaughter and assault with a semiautomatic firearm. Lyons was charged nearly three years after he and his partner, Christopher Muse, shot and killed Twyman. Muse was not charged but did receive a 30-day suspension.

LA County settled a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by Twyman’s family for $3.9 million in 2020. 

Twyman’s father said the sentence was “no victory,” but he and other family members agree having Lyons prevented from becoming a cop in California would keep the community safe. 

“The office’s Justice System Integrity Division looks at the facts of each case presented to the office by law enforcement. During the review, they will make a determination as to whether we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed,” the DA’s office said in a statement to the Los Angeles Public Press.

A Second Plea Deal is Rejected

On November 10, 2022, the LA District Attorney’s office announced charges against one of several deputies who shot and killed another father of three: David Ordaz Jr. Deputies Edwin Navarrete, Nathaniel Trujillo, Jaime Romero, and Remin Pineda fired a volley of shots at Ordaz as he moved towards them with a knife in his hand. After Ordaz fell to the ground, dropped the knife, and laid with his back facing the deputies, Pineda continued to shoot. Members of Ordaz’s family stood just feet away from him as he was killed, and cried out in horror.

Pineda was the only deputy charged in the shooting, with one felony count of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and one felony count of assault under color of authority. The DA’s office concluded that Navarrete’s gun was fired lawfully in defense of others, and that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trujillo and Romero’s shots were unreasonable and unnecessary.

On October 20, 2023, the prosecutors presented a plea deal they had kept secret – even denying its existence when Spectrum News1 inquired – to Judge Michael Pastor. The agreement would sentence Pineda to just two years of probation for the shooting, and his revocation of the right to be a cop in California. Judge Pastor rejected the deal, and the case is set to have a preliminary hearing in April. 

Multiple Deputies, Only One Charged

Twyman’s killing on June 6, 2019, occurred after deputies were sent to the South Bay Villas apartment complex to look for him in connection to an ongoing investigation. LASD detectives provided Lyons and Muse with the license plate of the white KIA Forte Twyman drove, and they spotted the car when they entered the parking lot, according to court filings. 

Video from surveillance cameras show the two deputies approaching the vehicle with their guns drawn. Muse first approaches and opens the rear passenger door as Lyons stands by, then walks to the driver’s window and shines a flashlight. As he reaches the door, Twyman begins to reverse the car in a counterclockwise arc. Muse, still standing near the open rear door, quickly walks in line with the vehicle. Lyons begins firing at the Twyman through the windshield, and Muse immediately joins in, shooting through the open door. 

The deputies continued shooting as the car rolled backwards and smashed into a carport, finally coming to a stop. Lyons then retrieved a rifle from their patrol car, took up a position behind a nearby parked truck, and continued shooting. The video also appears to show Muse firing additional rounds. The deputies fired 34 rounds at Twyman, who was hit multiple times and died. Twyman’s passenger was not injured.

The shooting violated a LASD policy that forbids shooting at moving vehicles unless the occupants are threatening a “department member or another person present with deadly force.” A moving vehicle itself does not meet that criteria. 

Despite an autopsy that showed both Lyons and Muse fired fatal rounds, Lyons’s attorneys claimed in a statement that he “did not kill Mr. Twyman,” and that his prosecution was motivated by politics.

Deputies were dispatched to the Ordaz family home on March 14, 2021, after David’s sister, Hilda Pedroza, called the East LA Sheriff’s station to request assistance for her brother who was threatening suicide and holding a knife. 

When they arrived at the scene, the deputies ordered Ordaz out of a parked car he was sitting in. He exited and stood about 15 feet away from them and began to pace back and forth along the sidewalk between the car and his family on the other side of a chain link fence, as captured on their body worn video. A few minutes later, two deputies in the group fired beanbag rounds at Ordaz, with Pineda, Navarrete, Trujillo, and Romero following seconds later with gunshots. Pineda kept firing after the other deputies stopped shooting, even as Ordaz Jr. “continued to lie on the ground on the right side of his body,” according to a 13-page memo from the district attorney on the incident. Another deputy told him to stop, but Pineda fired a final round as Ordaz lay on the ground, the knife discarded. 

At least four of the 12 gunshot wounds Ordaz received were fatal, according to an autopsy performed by the LA County Department of Medical Examiner. Two of them were fired by Pineda.  

In both of these cases, multiple deputies fired rounds that were fatal, yet only one was charged. Furthermore, none of the deputies faced charges of murder or manslaughter for the killings, only lesser counts of assault with a firearm and assault under color of authority. 

 “These cases are separate matters. Charging decisions and case settlements are based on the evidence and law applicable in each individual incident,” the DA’s office said in a statement. 

At a press conference following Lyons’ sentencing, Gascón called the conviction “historic”. He also said that he believed the mere fact that Lyons faced consequences would send a message.

“There is never going to be enough to bring Ryan back,” he said. “This individual has been convicted of two felonies. He will never be able to be a peace officer in the state of California again.”

At least four people have been shot by LASD deputies since Lyons’ conviction. 

Twyman’s mother, Tommy, called the sentence “bittersweet” and his father, Charles, lamented the sentence in court.

“My grandkids are asking me, asking my wife, what happened to my daddy, why did he have to die. … When they ask me what happened to the man who killed him, I’m gonna have to say he got probation,” he said. “There’s no victory here.”

Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter L.A., said that while Twyman’s family wanted Lyons to face a stiffer punishment for taking a life, they also understand convicting police officers is difficult and the deal guaranteed that the ex-deputy will never carry a badge and gun in California again.

“As much as they wanted him to be punished more severely, they also wanted the community to be safe from Andrew Lyons, and that’s what we won.”

After Judge Pastor rejected Pineda’s plea deal in October, Ordaz’s family members were seen embracing and crying outside of the courtroom.

“I felt like I had lost hope in the justice system. I am very thankful for this judge that took the case,” Ordaz’s sister, Hilda Pedroza said. “I was shocked. I was really shocked, I did not think that this was going to be possible. I think the first words out of my mouth were, ‘Thank God.’” 

Whether Pineda will see any time incarcerated remains to be determined.