In August, I wrote in an opinion piece on Proposition 47, arguing that every low-level offender is just one bad decision away from becoming a violent criminal. At any time, they can graduate from petty crook to violence.
Residents and police officers on Saturday night in Santa Ana experienced this scenario first hand.
Jimmy Hoang Troung, a repeat felony drug offender who had his convictions reduced to misdemeanors under Prop. 47, shot at police officers with a stolen semi-automatic firearm during a two-hour pursuit following a car stop, officials said.
The officers did not return fire.
Spike strips slowed him down, but Troung allegedly rode on his rims until his sedan nearly burst into flames. A stand off ensued for the next three hours.
Armored vehicles (the safety vehicles critics want to ban because of the so-called “militarization of police”) were used to pin his car and protect the officers.
After three hours of negotiations, SWAT officers got him into custody. He was charged Monday with attempted murder on peace officers.
Troung’s arrest has caused a stir among prosecutors and police officers.
“Mr. Troung’s actions endangered the community and our officers,” said Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas in a press release. “Our officers did an outstanding job in bringing this incident to a successful conclusion with the surrender and arrest of Mr. Troung. However, it is concerning that while he is facing numerous felony charges, his possession of the stolen handgun that he used to shoot at our officers is likely a misdemeanor, in accordance with Proposition 47, due its value being under $950.”
Troung is another example of a bad guy who didn’t spend enough time behind bars because of Prop 47.
According to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Troung’s criminal background includes:
On Sept. 20, 2012, Troung was convicted of a felony drug possession.
On Sept. 25, 2013, Troung was convicted of felony drug possession.
On Dec. 2, 2014, Troung had both of his felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors under Prop 47, and he was not placed on parole, probation, or post-release community supervision.
On April 3, 2015, Troung was arrested for carrying a switch-blade knife.
Three days later, on April 6, 2015, he was arrested again for being in possession of a controlled substance.
On May 26, 2015, Troung was charged with a misdemeanor count of carrying a switchblade knife.
On June 1, 2015, he was charged with two misdemeanors, including possession of controlled substance paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance.
I would feel a lot safer with people like him in jail.
And I’m not alone.
“Prop. 47 is a failure,” said Tom Dominguez, president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs. “Prop. 47 has failed our neighborhoods, failed our criminal justice system and failed our police officers. Luckily no one was hurt in this incident, but with Prop. 47 flooding our communities with dangerous felons released with little or no consequences for the crimes they commit, we might no be so lucky next time.”
As a side note, if a police officer found him with the stolen gun he could not have been arrested or charged on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm; officers wouldn’t be able to book him for a felony for possession of stolen property.
We are lucky Troung didn’t crash and seriously injure or kill anyone during the pursuit.
We are also lucky Troung’s gunshots didn’t kill or injure anyone.
Troung was lucky, too, that officers didn’t shoot him.
Everyone got lucky this time around.
Prop. 47 backers say it is too early to draw conclusions about the impact of the law because the crime data is not yet in.
I don’t think we can wait for the stats to confirm what the overwhelming evidence shows: There are way too many people like Troung on the streets these days.
Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at email@example.com.