RICHMOND-District Attorney Diana Becton’s 22-year-old stepson was arrested last weekend on suspicion of assault at home, which caused Beckton to withdraw from her office in a decision on charges.
The arrest occurred before 1 am on August 29, in a house in East Richmond Heights. A spokesperson for Constable Contra Costa said that the police were called to the residence “because of a family disturbance involving two victims, a baby and a suspect.”
Sheriff’s spokesperson Jimmy Lee said in an email: “The police conducted an investigation and later arrested 22-year-old Ahkai Bernstine on charges of domestic assault.” Bernstein was very excited, yelling, and initially resisted arrest before a deputy could finally handcuff him. During his detention, Bernstein told his deputy that his stepmother was the district attorney.”
Authorities stated that Bernstein was detained in the Martinez detention facility, but was later released on bail of $5,000. Li said that a judge of the Contra Costa High Court issued an emergency protection order against Burnstine, naming the alleged victim as the protected party.
When asked about the arrest, Scott Alonso, a spokesperson for the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office, said that Beckton had taken steps to prevent her office from making a decision on charges. According to state law, prosecutors have one year to file misdemeanor charges, while most serious crimes have seven years.
“We have asked the California Attorney General’s Office to consider the conflict in order to make a filing decision. In doing so, our office aims to ensure an independent review of the incident,” Alonso said.
The Attorney General’s Office did not immediately respond to an email asking whether the recusal has been approved. If this is the case, the Attorney General’s Office will not only make a decision on the charges, but will also handle the prosecution when the charges are filed.
Becton was appointed in 2016 and elected in 2018, and is running for re-election in 2022. So far, her opponent is Mary Knox, the deputy district attorney in her office.