Southern California breaking news and trends

Gone in a flash: The end of the red-light camera era

red light camera sign

Photo by Purple Wyrm via Flickr Creative Commons

Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red-light camera anymore. 

A Police Commission vote on Tuesday to end the contract with its red-light camera operator means that the program is over, effective this weekend. LAPD will no longer have access to the data, video, and photos of you gesturing offensively at the traffic signal as it snapped your picture and stole your soul. 

In July, the L.A. City Council voted to shut down the expensive and controversial program, amid questions about whether it actually saved lives. Since that time, the city has not aggressively pursued outstanding tickets and has no plans to do so. 

The police department kept alive the contract with American TrafficSolutions to collect revenue from unpaid tickets on a voluntary basis. Gross revenue has declined from $191,539 in September to $69,905 in January, says the L.A. Times.


LAPD investigation finds one of its own guilty of racial profiling

lapd motorcycle

Photo by jondoeforty1 via Flickr Creative Commons

A 15-year LAPD veteran was found to be targeting Latino drivers for traffic stops, an internal police investigation has reportedly shown. It's the first time the LAPD found one if its own guilty of racial profiling, says the L.A. Times.

Patrick Smith, who was reportedly relieved of duty during the investigation, worked solo on motorcycle assignment in the West Traffic division where he was found to be stopping Latinos "based on their race and deliberately misidentifying some Latinos as white on his reports, presumably in an effort to conceal the fact that the people he pulled over were overwhelmingly Latino," according to sources, the Times reports.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck signed off on the investigation's findings and Smith was ordered to a disciplinary hearing. At the hearing, the department will attempt to have him fired, said sources. A three-person board must hear the case and decide – the chief can not independently fire an officer.


Foul play not suspected in death of 4-year-old girl found hanging

police tape

Photo by Harvey K via Flickr Creative Commons

A 4-year-old girl, found hanging in a bedroom closet in her Westchester home on Thursday, was not a victim of foul play, authorities believe. 

Police believe the child was playing unsupervised for a brief period of time, KTLA reports, before she was found by family members and taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.

LAPD detectives from the Abused Child Unit are investigating the incident. "Right now, it's an undetermined death," said LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith, notes the L.A. Times.

Family members, coached by a 911 operator, reportedly attempted CPR until emergency personnel arrived on the scene.

An autopsy is planned for Friday.


Fleeing suspect hops from rooftop to rooftop evading capture in Westwood

Screenshot: Near Malcolm and Wilshire Blvd in Westwood via Google Maps

Screenshot: Near Malcolm and Wilshire Blvd in Westwood via Google Maps

A suspected car thief spent five hours hopping from rooftop to rooftop in Westwood on Thursday in an effort to evade capture by police.

The pursuit, broadcast sporadically on television news, began around 8:00 a.m. when officers attempted to pull over the man in a Toyota Camry believed to be stolen.

The suspect -- who according to KTLA-TV told authorities "If I could get to my gun, I would kill all of you," fled first by car and then by foot in an area south of UCLA's campus near near Malcolm and Wilshire.

After hours of hopping from roof to roof of nearby homes, approaching police and then backing away, and unsuccessful negotiations to get the suspect down peacefully via ramps and ladders, the LAPD brought in its SWAT team.

The unidentified man surrendered to authorities after being hit with at least two rounds of bean bag ammunition. A female passenger was reportedly taken into custody.


Wilshire Blvd shut down, shooting and standoff near Miracle Mile

swat standoff on wilshire ktla

Photo: KTLA's David Begnaud via Twitter

Sky 5 photo of LAPD and shooting suspect at Mansfield and Wilshire near Miracle Mile.

A section of Wilshire Boulevard is shut down near Miracle Mile after a man was shot around 1:45 p.m. Monday at South Orange Drive, LAPD Officer Greg Baek told the L.A. Weekly.

The shooting victim survived and was taken to a local hospital. LAPD radio traffic reportedly indicated that a wounded man was taken to Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

News outlet footage depicts a standoff LAPD SWAT members and the suspect. According to reports, Wilshire is closed from Highland Avenue to La Brea.

Reporter David Begnaud has been live tweeting images from the KTLA helicopter circling over Wilshire and Mansfield. 

Updated 4:20 p.m.: The suspect was taken into custody around 3:30 p.m.

Updated 6:12 p.m.: The man is accused of shooting another man in the face, the Associated Press reports.

Los Angeles police Officer Karen Rayner says the suspect, whose name was not released, was taken into custody after an hour-long standoff that brought traffic in the area to a halt.

Rayner tells a local wire service that the shooting was the culmination of a dispute that began on a bus around 1:45 p.m. Monday.

Police found the suspected shooter in front of a BMW dealership a few blocks away. Rayner says officers fired a couple of bean bag rounds at him, but he refused to surrender. Eventually a SWAT team was called in and surrounded the man.

Rayner says the victim is listed in critical but stable condition.