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S.F. Chief Seeks LAPD Help


Former Los Angeles assistant police chief George Gascón has just taken over as San Francisco's top cop and already is making waves -- by bringing in two LAPD homicide detectives to help solve a case that the SFPD allegedly botched. At the heart of the matter, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, is the SFPD's inability to conclude whether the 2007 death of a French national was a murder or suicide. Hugues de la Plaza was discovered stabbed in his locked apartment, but police never found a knife -- and suggested that de la Plaza may have washed the knife or thrown it out a window before dying.

The Chronicle says that Gascón asked departing LAPD chief Bill Bratton to loan him two detectives, which Bratton has apparently agreed to do. Although it's not unheard of for third party law enforcement agencies to aid local police departments, the death of de la Plaza, who held dual French and U.S. citizenship, is an especially delicate matter and Gascón's bringing in outsiders could stir resentment in his new command. The victim's friend set up an international campaign to have the case re-examined and a resulting French investigation concluded that de la Plaza was attacked outside of his apartment, not inside it.

The Chronicle reports that "Gascón said he has also invited French authorities to work in 'full partnership' with San Francisco and Los Angeles investigators."

The SFPD's homicide division is publicly welcoming the help from L.A. -- and so is de la Plaza's former girl friend, Melissa Nix.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that this is a horrific case of incompetence," the Chronicle quotes Nix as saying of the San Francisco cops' work.