LAMurderCop is the macabre Twitter handle of LAPD Homicide Detective Sal LaBarbera. The veteran detective is under investigation for posting photos of a grisly South L.A. gang-related murder to his Twitter account. Evidently, the blog LA Taco took offense, claiming that LaBarbera demonstrated a “callous” insensitivity towards the victim by posting photos of the crime scene.
And we thought he was just giving us something gory and bizarre to blog about for Halloween.
Detective LeBarbera sees his tweeting in a different light. With currently over 4,000 followers, LaBarbera hopes that he can bring more public awareness to the violent crime that still plagues South Los Angeles.
In a tweet, he explained himself in less than 25 words: “(D)id you ever think 1 pic would get such attention? If I did I would have done sooner. Stop the violence.”
And he’s referring to this kind of violence:
The photo is of the body of 32-year-old Oscar Arevalo, who died of a gunshot wound in the 10600 block of Wilmington Avenue. The LAPD has indicated that the incident was gang-related. According to the report, two perpetrators walked up to Arevalo on the sidewalk and took him down with two fatal shoots. The suspects are at large.
A member of the LAPD for nearly 30 years, LaBarbera heads the Watts homicide squad in LAPD’s South Bureau — an area notorious for its gang-related crime — and an area notoriously ignored by the rest of Los Angeles.
This incident raises some good questions about how law enforcement ought to handle themselves via social media outlets. There are no clear rules, so the outcome of LaBabera’s case will be a precedent-maker.
So, here are some questions for you, my opinionated readers: Do you think police officers have the right to distribute crime scene photos via social media? If so, do you think that photographs of gruesome and disturbing crime scenes will help prevent future violence? Or do you find that tweeting photos of this nature is insensitive and exploitative?
We want to know. Post your comments below.