The killer of slain Inglewood policeman, Sgt. George Aguilar, is set to be released from prison, despite efforts from family members to keep him behind bars.
Aguilar was gunned down while chasing several robbery suspects in March 1988. Joevone Elster, the mastermind behind the crime, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Four suspects were arrested and charged with murder.
Aguilar was immortalized when he became the first Inglewood police officer to die in the line of duty. The Inglewood City Council declared an official day of mourning, flags flew at half-staff and a trust fund was established for the officer’s 3-year-old son.
Now, family members are in a state of shock at even the thought of Elster walking after 29 years behind bars.
“I never thought we'd be here trying to fight for him to stay in prison. What kind of justice system would release a cop killer?" son George Aguilar Jr. said. The family has had little time to digest the news, learning Tuesday that Elster will be released on Friday.
Elster was previously granted parole. That sentence was overturned by Gov. Jerry Brown. Then, Los Angeles Superior Court overturned Brown’s reversal, allowing the original parole grant to be reinstated. The Governor’s Office is not likely to try and reverse the reversal because such actions almost always prove unsuccessful.
Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Aguilar was raised in the Latino Boyle Heights area. In Inglewood, the father of four served as a role model for groups of Latino school children he counseled.
Daughter Camille Zamorano said her father “absolutely loved his job. He gave his life for it, and now our justice system is going to allow the person responsible for his murder to walk the streets.”
“My dad lost his life when he was 46 years old. Now, here we are, the man responsible for my dad's death—his is about to begin at just about the same age. Where is the fairness in that?" Aguilar Jr. said.
Brother Larry Aguilar said the ordeal has been a “nightmare” for the entire family, which never ended. “There should be a law that anybody that kills a police officer should never see the outside of prison walls," he said.
With time running out, Aguilar's family is again pleading for the governor's help and asking the public to speak out. Aguilar was well-known in the law enforcement community, and his murder was even turned into a docudrama with Danny Trejo playing the veteran officer.