El Paso District Attorney candidates share thoughts on the Walmart shooting suspect, police reform

Election

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso County voters heading to the polls to elect the county’s first new district attorney in nearly three decades.

The candidates are defense attorney Yvonne Rosales and prosecutor James Montoya facing off in the runoff.

Neither candidate Rosales nor Montoya got 50 percent of the vote for in the March Primary. Now they are both preparing for the runoff.

Justice for Aug. 3

Yvonne Rosales

As we near the one year anniversary of the Aug. 3 Walmart shooting, many El Pasoans are wondering when suspect Patrick Crusius will go to trial. Crusius was recently re-indicted to add a 23rd victim to his charges as well as those injured.

“So he brought a new indictment about a week ago and so I believe that we are going to be set back. I’m anticipating it will probably take another two years before we get to get to court on that matter,” said Yvonne Rosales candidate for district attorney.

James Montoya

However, Montoya does not believe the re-indictment will slow down the process.

“The pre-indictment is no delay at all, we re-indict cases all the time that’s something that happens,” said James Montoya candidate for district attorney. “It’s hard to say especially with the coronavirus situation, my best guess would probably be sometime next summer, maybe.”

When it comes to making changes within the DA’s office, Rosales says she will have employees re-interview and Montoya says he will have them reapply.

In the courtroom

The two candidates having different opinions however on what role the district attorney should play with trying cases.

“I think that it’s important that the community sees their elected district attorney in court. I think it’s important the courthouse and the judges and my fellow prosecutors and other members of the bar see that the DA is willing to be there in court handling these cases,” said Montoya.

Rosales disagrees, saying their are larger issues for the chief prosecutor to handle.

“I feel that the elected official is the administrator. If I’m spending time you know for six months at a time handling a case then I can’t possibly be managing and overseeing the office,” said Rosales.

Police reform

However, when asked about police reform, neither said that there is a need for major reform in El Paso. Although, they will both say they will hold law enforcement accountable.

“Let’s have that unconscious biased training on a yearly basis and let’s make sure that our law enforcement agents are working to the best national standards of proper police procedures. And we make sure we abolish any kind of choke-holds,” said Rosales.

“Certainly, I think if we keep looking at the data looking at officer-involved incidents to see if there are any other commonalities or factors and figure out if hey this is something we can improve on,” said Montoya.

Election

Back when Rosales and Montoya ran against each other and another two candidates back in march, Rosales had 38.57 percent of the vote and Montoya had 34.01 percent.

Early voting for the runoff began on Monday, June 29 and will last until Friday, July 10.

Election day is Tuesday, July 14 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can find more information on the El Paso County Elections Department website.

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