By Jim Smith
A police report on the investigation into the death of Devin Petelski on Oct. 15, when she was hit broadside by a police car, has been completed but is not being released to the public. The Beachhead has requested a copy under the state’s freedom of information act.
According the city attorney’s office, the report blames Petelski for her own death because she pulled out in front of the police car which was traveling down Venice Blvd.
However, witnesses say the police car was “silent running,” that is, without lights of any kind. Several witnesses say the police were also speeding. Will Yeagar, who saw the collision, told the Beachhead that the police car had no lights and swerved to the right at the last minute, hitting Petelski’s car in the driver’s door.
Police are claiming that the headlights, which were knocked out by the force of the impact, were still hot, meaning that they had been on when the collision occurred. But another witness says that the driver of the police car turned its lights off when it turned on to Venice Blvd. from Lincoln Blvd.
The police investigation reportedly found that Petelski was at fault. The fate of the two police officers is confused. Detective Jesus Ravega told the Beachhead last month that they had returned to work, however, Capt. Hiltner told the marchers on Nov. 19 that they were on sick leave.
Whether or not the officers were answering a call at the time of the collision has changed several times. The first statement of the police stated that they were not on a call. Then another spokesperson said they may have been, but had not had time to radio in that they were. Now, police say they were definitely on a call.
What is Silent Running?
When the marchers arrived at the Pacific Station, they were met by Capt. Joe Hiltner. He told the crowd that he had a prepared statement. Incredibly, instead of responding to the marchers demands that silent running be stopped, he launched on a tirade against “irresponsible” statements in the press (see it on YouTube at: http://bit.ly/5Cyo2G.
When asked a question about silent running, he said he was “not familiar with the term.”
While silent running is no longer officially condoned by the LAPD, it is a general practice of many officers, particularly when prowling streets where drug dealing or other crimes may be taking place.
The police report on the collision has not been released by the LAPD, but the city attorney’s office has been leaking parts of it to gullible media, including the Times and the Weekly (KPCC-FM reporting has been much more balanced).
The L.A. Times quoted assistant city attorney Bob Pulone (whose name it misspelled) as saying the police car was barely speeding – 41 to 45 mph. The speed limit on Venice Blvd. is 40 mph.
Pulone further claimed that Petelski was at fault since he claimed that she failed to stop and failed to yield to a police vehicle.