Los Angeles’ police chief said Tuesday he had directed an internal investigation into whether officers at the Topanga Station improperly turned away a group of day laborers who tried to make an urgent report about being hired to dispose of body parts.
The laborers told NBC4 in an exclusive interview last week that they were offered $500 to haul away trash bags containing human remains from a home in Tarzana, where police later discovered evidence that a murder or murders had taken place inside.
The men told NBC4 they were turned away from not one, but two different law enforcement stations when they tried to report what they had seen. First it was a California Highway Patrol station on De Soto Avenue in Woodland Hills, where they were directed to contact the LAPD. Then at the Topanga Station in Canoga Park, they said they were told to go outside and call 911, rather than being offered direct assistance.
“My expectation is that when people go to the stations for help, we help ’em,” Chief Michel Moore told NBC4’s I-Team in response to questions about the laborers’ account.
An LAPD dispatch recording appears to confirm part of the account. A dispatcher can be heard telling officers to meet the person making a report in front of the Topanga Station.
“The mechanism as reported to call 911 as an alternative does not meet my standard or expectations,” Moore said.
Eventually officers from another LAPD station met with the workers and an effort was made to get out to the Tarzana home.
NBC4 has also asked the CHP for comment about officers sending the workers away with a note to call the LAPD.
Moore said this is not the first time he’s been troubled by a front desk visit by someone in need of help. On Tuesday, the police commission heard a report about the LAPD shooting of a man named Takar Smith, who was killed by officers in January. Moore said smith’s wife went to the Rampart Station for help because her husband was in the midst of a mental health crisis, and was told to go home and call 911.
The man who hired the laborers, now identified as Samuel Bond Haskell, was charged Monday with three counts of murder, along with a special circumstance allegation that he committed multiple murders.
The criminal complaint accuses Haskell, 35, of murdering his wife Mei Haskell, who vanished from the family’s home on Coldstream Terrace more than a week ago.
It also accuses him of murdering his wife’s parents, Yanxiang Wang and Gaoshan Li. All three are considered missing, because the remains discovered in Encino have yet to be identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner, officials said.
Source: NBC Los Angeles