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Community activists call for DA recusal in Earl McNeil death case

Justice reform activists are calling on District Attorney Summer Stephan to recuse herself from the investigation into the death of Earl McNeil.

NATIONAL CITY, CA (NEWS 8) -- Justice reform activists have sent a letter to District Attorney Summer Stephan, calling on her to recuse herself from the investigation into the death of Earl McNeil.

McNeil, 40, died in June following a confrontation with National City police officers.

During a news conference Wednesday on the steps of city hall in National City, activists said McNeil was a paid informant for the DA’s office in several cases.

That relationship creates a conflict of interest and the case should be handed off to the FBI, the activists said.

“A man is dead and the district attorney has recused herself from cases with far less implications. What is more important than a human life?” said attorney Monica Montgomery during the news conference.

They also want the DA to reopen past cases that Earl McNeil worked on.

“Mr. McNeil suffered from mental illness that caused delusions,” according to a news release from the group San Diegans for Criminal Justice Reform.

“The DA’s Office was fully aware of his mental health issues and his recantations of testimony that resulted in several serious felony convictions of several incarcerated persons over the years, yet continued to use him as a paid informant,” the news release said.

The District Attorney’s office issued a statement saying its office has “prioritized the review of the case” and that its review is being conducted in a “thorough and objective manner.”

The DA response said case information is being shared with the FBI’s Civil Rights Division and an opinion from the California Attorney General’s Office has been requested on whether there is a legal basis for recusal.

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