A day after a career criminal was arrested in the fatal shooting of philanthropist Jacqueline Avant at the lavish Beverly Hills home she shared with her husband Clarence, a 90-year-old music producer inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year, her family issued a statement that read in part, “Now, let justice be served.”
But in Los Angeles, where left-wing lawmakers and activists have pushed a litany of progressive reforms that help violent criminals spend less-time behind bars, justice is not only fleeting — it’s twisted, critics say.
“It’s a s–t show over here,” said LAPD Det. Jamie McBride, a director of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, a police union. “Bad guys are released quicker than we can finish the paper work, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
The Avants — whose daughter Nicole is a former ambassador to the Bahamas and married to Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos, had been living a comfortable life in their sprawling 4,000 square foot , $7 million home in the ritzy Trousdale Estates neighborhood for decades, friends said.
But the elderly couple’s quiet lives were upended at around 2:23 a.m. Wednesday when cops say career criminal Aariel Maynor broke into their home and fatally shot Jacqueline Avant, 81. Clarence Avant was home but not hurt.
The couple also employed a security guard, who was shot at by the suspect but not hit or injured in any way, according to Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook.
The Avants hired the guard to protect them from a different type of L.A intruder — fans of the recent Netflix documentary about Avant called the “Black Godfather” who were dropping by the house uninvited, he said.
Avant’s alleged killer was arrested Thursday in Jacqueline Avant’s murder after being caught in another botched robbery in nearby Hollywood in which he shot himself in the foot.
Maynor, who is currently hospitalized under armed guard, was in violation of parole at the time of his arrest and “it didn’t sound as if he was reporting to his parole agent at all,” Stainbrook said. Police say he will be charged Monday.
The 29-year-old was no stranger to the criminal justice system, records show. He was sentenced to a five-year prison term in 2013 for second degree robbery and inflicting bodily harm, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
And he recently served a four-year sentence for second-degree robbery with enhancements for a previous felony and was released on supervised parole on Sept. 1.
“With this guy’s history, with prison priors, he absolutely should still be in jail,” said McBride “He should have gotten a longer sentence. For his rap sheet and the violent crimes he’s been involved in, he should never have been offered a plea bargain.”
Cops still don’t know if anything was taken from the Avant house, authorities said. The suspect then drove to a home in Hollywood where a father and his 17-year-old daughter were home, Stainbrook said.
The suspect allegedly took items from the house before shooting himself in the foot in the backyard which alerted someone to call the cops, Stainbrook added.
Stainbrook, McBride and others say that liberal justice reform policies, spurred by groups such as Black Lives Matter and Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom have made it increasingly difficult for police to do their jobs.
“The criminals know they can do whatever they want,” Stainbrook told The Post. “Then multiply that by all the prisoners released from jail because of the coronavirus and the no-bail and it’s a nightmare and very frustrating from our end of it.”
Many are blaming the recent statewide spike in crime, including a spate of looting, on the criminal justice reforms, including Proposition 47, a 2014 law that is intended to keep non violent criminals out of crowded prisons and treat low level criminals with more compassion. The law doubled the amount a suspect could steal to be considered a felony from $450 to $950.
Activist groups, along with celebrities such as Brad Pitt, John Legend and Jay Z famously supported the reform, arguing African Americans were unfairly targeted for years and the measure would help save the state tens of millions in incarceration fees for petty criminals.
The reform was backed by Newsom, then California’s Lt. Governor, along with LA District Attorney George Gascon, among other Democrats.
“Proposition 47 has bolstered criminals because they know that if they are caught stealing the consequences are minimal,” said Mark Powell, a former reserve police officer in San Diego, in a recent opinion article in the Times of San Diego.
McBride said that in recent weeks he has caught many suspects entering the prices of stolen items into their telephone calculators so as not to go over $950 for a one-time robbery.
“You can essentially walk into a store here, take up to $1000 in items, walk out, get a ticket and get released,” Stainbrook said. “We are arresting the same people over and over.”
The election last year of 40-year top cop Gascon, 67, to the position of LA District Attorney was the icing on the cake, some say. Gascon, like prosecutors elected in recent years in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago and Fairfax County, Va. was backed in part by billionaire leftist George Soros.
The Cuban-born Gascon, who moved with his family to the US in 1967, delivered an inauguration speech in Dec. 2020 in which he sounded more like a social justice activist than a law enforcement officer.
“Our rush to incarcerate generations of kids of color,” he said in his speech, has torn apart “the social fabric of our communities. The status quo hasn’t made us safe.”
The Avant home invasion is far from an isolated incident in LA’s wealthy show-biz enclaves.
Last month BET host Terrence Jenkins was shot near his home in Sherman Oaks. In October, robbers made off with some $1 million in jewelry stolen from the home of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” mainstay Dorit Kemsley.
On Friday, Avant’s neighbor in Trousdale Estates, nestled in the foothills of the Santa Monica mountains, recounted other violent incidents in the area.
“Today there was another incident on Bedford Drive,” Vida Ardebilchi said in an interview. “Somebody went into the house at seven in the morning and got trapped in a room. The SWAT team was called and then he [the intruder] slit his wrists when he realized he could not get out. He slit his wrists and died in the house. There was another incident where a guy got attacked on Sunset Strip and got shot in the head for his Rolex watch.”
Ardebilchi said that members of the community now want to build gates for their street and hire more private security.
Trousdale Estates does not have a guard gate like some of the newer ultra-wealthy gated communities in the area. Police sources told The Post that Maynor would have been able to enter the neighborhood without being stopped by guards.
“It’s disappointing and the fault of the government.” Ardebilchi continued. “We all say it’s terrible and nobody does anything about it. I don’t feel safe in our neighborhood anymore.”
Friends of Avant, a former model from Queens, were shocked by her death in what is considered one of the safest and wealthiest parts of Los Angeles.
Former United Nations ambassador Andrew Young, a longtime friend of the couple said in an interview.
“I’ve been agonizing over what happened, how it happened, what the meaning of all this is. Jacqui and Clarence had a guard at the gate. I’m wondering how it could have happened. This is a big mystery. They had no enemies in town. Everybody loved Clarence and Jacqui.”
And criminals love Beverly Hills.
“It’s a bigger target,” McBride said. “We arrest these crooks but they are not staying in jail. If they know it is a property crime they figure nothing will happen to them. So why not go for the big dollars in Beverly Hills?” In the last few years, the LAPD had to create a special unit just for home invasions in the enclave, he said.
“People get followed home and then they get robbed,” McBride told The Post. “The only thing missing form LA is Kurt Russell driving up in an eye patch, like in ‘Escape From New York.’ It all goes back to our liberal politics.”