A candidate for Contra Costa County (CA) District Attorney said during a forum this week he wouldn’t seek the death penalty against defendants who’ve killed a police officer because, “it’s part of the risk they take.”

The comments by attorney Lawrence Strauss — one of three candidates in the June DA election — were promptly slammed by local police union presidents, one of whom said Strauss’ name shouldn’t be on the ballot, the San Jose Mercury reports.

Strauss was responding to a question during an April 24 forum at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek, which asked Strauss, interim DA Diana Becton, and senior deputy district attorney Paul Graves if they would seek the death penalty against cop killers. Of the three, Strauss was the only one to give a direct answer.

He began his comments saying that when an officer is murdered it affects not only his family, but “a nationwide network of police officers.” He added, however, that 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. He added that he trained police officers as a prosecutor in Hawaii and always told them to approach every traffic stop with caution because someone could pull a gun out at any time.

Contra Costa County Sheriff Sgt. Sean Welch, president of the agency’s officer union, called the comments “archaic” and “extremely inappropriate.”


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