South Bureau Homicide

Synopsis: Two LAPD detectives are forced to balance their aggressiveness with compassion while investigating the senseless murder of a promising inner-city high school student.
16 min

- 77th is only 12 square miles.

It has over 400 churches,

but historically

it has the highest homicide

rate in the entire city.

You're either aligned

by circumstances

or aligned by choice,

but you are aligned

based on the neighborhood.

You have those friends

that you grew up with since

elementary school, those

four friends are gone.

Three of them are dead,

and one is in life without

possibility of parole

in the penitentiary.

We all have to be

educated regarding

this crime called murder.

We can't put it into

the gang banger,

we can't put it into drugs,

we can't say it

domestic violence,

no it needs to

stand on it's own.

You don't have to add

anything additional to it

like robbery, or

anything like that.

It should be murder, and

murder should be considered

the worst crime of all.

- Homicide requires character.

It's not just goin'

and arrestin' bad guys.

This job can be very tough,

and can be very painful.

The main thing I think

that makes us so effective

in this part of the

city is the bond between

the detectives

that work homicide,

specifically homicide,

and the community.

- Yes, this is Sal.


Where at?

Is the body still at the scene?

Okay, I'm just yeah, I'm in

bed, so just driving time.

Let me get ready.

All right, see you guys.

I've been touched by probably

at least 7,000 homicide

investigations, whether they

are cases I responded to,

cases I handled, cases where

I've answered a telephone,

cases that have been

discussed within my office.

So basically I look at it,

as a homicide detective,

the units I've been assigned to,

we've handled a little

over 7,000 homicides.

When that phone rings,

whether it be for myself, or

especially the

investigators that are

handling a particular case,

there is that

frustrating sense that

one murder is one too many.

One murder just effects

hundreds of lives,

whether it be the

victim's families,

the detective's families,

the neighborhood,

the community, the news

media, the churches,

the hospitals, there's

so many lives effected

with the loss of one person

through violent death.

So when that gun shot rings out,

when that two inches that

could have saved a life,

or taken a life, happens,

there's that frustrating part

of, "Wow, we've

done so much, and

"people still have

this violent streak,

"or this, why are these

two gangs goin' at it,

"why is this person goin' out

"committing a robbery,

and a shooting?"

I hate when people say,

"He was in the wrong place

"at the wrong time.

"She was in the wrong

place at the wrong time."

There's no wrong place,

and there's no wrong time.

Unless you're committing a

robbery, and you're in a bank,

and you get shot,

well guess what,

you were in the wrong

place, at the wrong time,

because you were

doin' somethin' bad.

You send your child off to

school, you don't expect

him or her to get caught

up in the cross-fire

of a shootout.

Your husband goes off to

work, and is driving home

at 1:
00, 2:30 in the

morning, workin' three jobs,

and you don't expect

him to get caught up in

a robbery gone bad where

that person gets shot.

They're not in the wrong

place, at the wrong time,

that's where they're

suppose to be.

People often ask, myself

or other detectives are

always asked the question,

"What's your most memorable

"case, what's the most violent

case, what case stands out

"with you over the years?"

It's difficult, at least

for myself to answer,

and maybe it's because the many

years that I've spent here,

the many years that I've

seen so much violence in

such short periods of time.

I've seen everything,

decapitations, mutilations,

shootings, stabbings,

all kind a deaths,

all kind a manner a

deaths, and it's not really

the gruesome ones

particularly that stand out,

it may be the people

involved, maybe the victims,

maybe the day, location,

or the time of the year.

If you put the 80s and 90s

in context in Los Angeles,

we averaged 1,100 homicides

a year in the City of LA.

The large portion of

those were in south LA.

We had a police department

that was about 8,000 officers,

so we weren't staffed as

heavily as we are now.

And everything we did

was about suppression.

Years ago, there's no

way I ever would have

dealt with the

police department.

Back then, the police was

a little bit more aggressive.

Far as, they'll do anything

to you they want to.

Pull you over, talk sh*t

to you, cuss you out,

hit you upside the head,

whatever they wanted to do to you.

And this is a community

under siege with drugs and

gangs and murder, and we

have the worse police force

in our communities,

tryin' to kill it.

They weren't tryin' to fix it,

they weren't tryin'

to arrest it,

they were tryin' to suppress

it by any means necessary.

In the 80s we would do

what was referred to as

an Operation Hammer.

A Hammer Task Force.

And we were bringin' 2 to

300 extra police officers

on a Friday or Saturday

night in south LA,

tryin' to do somethin'

to stop the violence.

And they stereotype

you real quick.

All you gotta do is be

walkin' down the street,

one or two people, and

they gonna pull you over,

an run your name,

find out where you at

and what you're doin'.

And if you slip up

and say you in a gang,

they gonna mark you

down on that little card

and you'll be labeled a

gang member from then on in.

It was somewhat effective,

but what we didn't see

at the time, that

suppression model,

alienated the community.

As a citizen in

between the two,

there was no place for me.

They were gonna do what

they were gonna do,

whether I liked it or not.

And the street was gonna

fight back against them,

whether I liked it or not.

So they were butting

heads with each other.

We didn't see the

long-term impact of that,

so when Rodney King

happened, we had no support,

we had no relationships.

He wasn't a member

of this nightmare.

He wasn't a participant

in this nightmare.

But they beat him like he was.

They beat him like

he was a gang member

they were tryin' to suppress.

And so having lived

through all of the 80s

and into the 90s

and seeing that,

now everything I do, is

based on my partnership

with people in this community.

And with those partnerships,

we see a reduction in violence,

we see a tremendous

increase in trust

in the police department.

And with that increase in

trust, the relations get

stronger, and

stronger, and stronger.

It's like anywhere

else, it's like a family

or anything else, it works.

We went from a

nightmare, to newness,

to the possibility of greater.

So are we done, no, no.

Last week, pretty amazing

week, Glodster, Moore,

Butterworth, Cafgan and

Turvy arrested a guy

on 198 and Main for

the murder of a...

They coulda been

anything else,

you coulda been in robbery,

you coulda been somethin' else,

but to decide that you're

gonna be a homicide detective,

that takes a lot on.

As far as our numbers, our

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