Southern California breaking news and trends

Whitney Houston death ruled accidental drowning, heart disease, cocaine (updated)

Mark J.Terrill/AP

Whitney Houston strikes a pose during her performance at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Monday, April 10, 2000, during taping of the "25 Years of #1 Hits: Arista Records' Anniversary Celebration."

Whitney Houston drowned, says the L.A. County Coroner, citing the sad accident as the singer's official cause of death. Associated causes of death were listed as heart disease, and cocaine use. Cocaine was found her system at the time of death.

On Wednesday, Beverly Hills Police Detectives met with officials from the L.A. County Coroner's Office to discuss the results of the autopsy of Whitney Elisebeth Houston, age 48, which was performed in February.

Notes the official BHPD statement:

Per the Coroner's Office, the official cause of the death has been determined to be drowning with Manner of Death identified as accidental. The associated causes were identified as effects of Atherosclerotic Heart Disease and Cocaine use.

The toxicology report identified that Cocaine and Metabolites were present and contributory in Ms. Houston's death. No trauma or foul play is suspected.

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'Disturbing' discovery of severed dog heads in South LA dumpster, says LAPD

dog leash

Photo by joshuaseye via Flickr Creative Commons

"This is despicable and very disturbing and we want to find out who did this," said LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith about the discovery of two severed dog heads inside a South LA dumpster, reports the L.A. Times.

A resident called police after finding the remains around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday near the intersection of Slauson and S. Vermont avenue.

The animals were identified as a chocolate Labrador retriever and a tan German shepherd mix. The canines were beheaded with what investigators believe was "a very sharp object." 

LAPD's Animal Cruelty Task Force and the LA Department of Animal Services are investigating the killing. Authorities said it was unclear if the dogs were from the area or if their remains were just discarded there.

"If they could do this to defenseless animals, who knows what they are capable of," Smith stated.

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Rave company exec and two former venue managers arrested in L.A. Coliseum scandal

monopoly man money mural venice beach coliseum investigation

Photo by ToGa Wanderings via Flickr Creative Commons

A rave company's chief executive and two former Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum execs were arrested Thursday in connection with a number of investigations into questionable financial dealings.

The D.A.'s office says charges were not immediately disclosed, notes the L.A. Times. However, a spokesperson from D.A. Steve Cooley's office released the names of the individuals arrested:

  • Patrick Lynch, the former longtime general manager of the Coliseum and the companion Sports Arena, was arrested at his home in Torrance.
  • Todd DeStefano, the former events manager at the Coliseum, was arrested at his friend's home in Venice.
  • Reza Gerami, the chief executive of the rave promotion company Go Ventures, was arrested at his home in Malibu.

Last year, the three were sued for more than $1 million by the Coliseum Commission -- a joint-powers authority that oversees the taxpayer-owned complex -- alleging they siphoned off revenues.

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Critiques of LAFD's new info release policy continue and questions remain

Mercer 17867

Frank Stoltze/KPCC

The Los Angeles Fire Department has been under fire recently due to discrepancies in its reporting times and failures of its communications equipment. Now it's taking heat for a new information release policy.

Confusion surrounding the LAFD's new information policy is continuing, as is the criticism.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday ordered the city's fire department to halt a new policy withholding key information on emergencies until it gets a written opinion from the city attorney's office. Earlier this week, the LAFD suddenly stopped providing real-time updates about emergencies it responds to, citing federal health privacy law.

In the meantime, city council members and media organizations bashed the new policy, and it remained unclear how it was being implemented.

Initially, fire officials refused to confirm even basic details about incidents earlier this week. Then it began using its Twitter feed to report incidents by block number with some basic information. Before the policy was disclosed, the Twitter feed had revealed specific addresses of incidents, and the sex and ages of victims. No messages have been sent from the account since about 6 p.m. Wednesday.

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Invisible Children 'Kony 2012' activist Jason Russell diagnosed with brief reactive psychosis

Jason Russell of Invisible Children

Photo by sean dreilinger via Flickr Creative Commons

Jason Russell of Invisible Children speaks at TEDxSanDiego in December 2011

Jason Russell, the Kony 2012 filmmaker and co-founder of Invisible Children found undressed and behaving wildly in San Diego last week, has been initially diagnosed with brief reactive psychosis, according to his wife.

He was hospitalized following the acute episode which occurred after his video about African warlord Joseph Kony went from relative obscurity to worldwide exposure in a matter of hours. 

Triggered by extreme stress, exhaustion, and dehydration, symptoms of the broad diagnosis can manifest as hallucinations, unusual speech and other unusual behavior consistent with witness accounts.

The condition causes "temporary debilitation, but in general people have good recoveries," said Dr. Stephen Marder, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. Doctors say brief reactive psychosis can also signal a more serious mental illness in some cases.

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