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State attorney general files charges against judge accused of firing at officer

The state attorney general's office has filed a felony assault charge against a retired Los Angeles County judge who police say opened fire on an officer during a standoff at his home in June.

James A. Bascue, 75, who was a top gang prosecutor in L.A. County before becoming a judge, was charged Thursday with one count of assault with a firearm for allegedly opening fire on an LAPD officer, according to a criminal complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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Police say the shooting occurred after Bascue called authorities about 11:45 p.m. on June 10 and reported that he was being held hostage inside his West L.A. home.

Dispatchers gleaned little information from Bascue's call, LAPD Officer Liliana Preciado said. He offered few details and refused to turn down the volume on a blaring TV set, she said.

When police arrived at the town house in the 1900 block of South Barrington Avenue, they found the retired judge inside his living room with two guns on his lap, police said. He loaded the guns' magazines and pointed a gun at his head, police said.

Officers pleaded with him to drop the weapons.

Police said that Bascue fired two shots, one inside his house and another toward an officer at the window. The shooting prompted a standoff with a SWAT team, and officers tried to talk Bascue into surrendering. Family members were contacted, but he would not emerge, police said. A neighbor eventually persuaded him to give up and he was arrested, police said.

Police evaluated Bascue for mental health problems but did not place him on a psychiatric hold.

During a hearing last month, Bascue's attorney, Richard G. Hirsch, said his client was at an undisclosed location getting treatment, but declined to specify what type.

"Judge Bascue is working hard to deal with some serious issues in his life," he said.

Bascue's attorneys did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment.

Since Bascue was a longtime L.A. county prosecutor, the case was transferred to the state attorney general's office. At a hearing last month, Judge Keith L. Schwartz said that all L.A. County judges would have to recuse themselves from the case.

Bascue's arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 4 before Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals, according to a spokesman for the attorney general's office.

Twitter: @MattHjourno

Times staff writers Veronica Rocha, Sarah Parvini and Mark Boster contributed to this report.

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