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Criminal Justice

Botched LAPD Fireworks Detonation: City Council Orders Expedited Report, Compensation For Families

Four photos show the total containment vessel before and after the explosion, along with a destroyed van and a damaged coin laundry business.
Photos displayed at an LAPD press conference on the preliminary findings of the investigation into botched fireworks detonation: (L) The damage to total containment vessel (R) Some of the damage from the fireworks detonation to the surrounding community.
(Robert Garrova
/
LAist)
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The L.A. City Council voted Wednesday to order the LAPD to speed up a report on the botched South L.A. fireworks detonation that injured more than a dozen people.

A preliminary federal investigation has found that police may have overloaded a special containment vessel when they tried to safely dispose of some of the 32,000 pounds of illegal fireworks found at a residence.

The resulting explosion on June 30 ripped apart the vessel, injured 17 people, displaced dozens of residents and caused severe damage to residential and business property.

Councilmember Curren Price, who represents the district where the botched detonation happened, is pushing LAPD Chief Michel Moore for answers. Price said processing the aftermath has been “mind-boggling.”

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“How could the LAPD bomb squad make such a stupid mistake, how could they have allowed this to happen in my working-class community?” Price said Wednesday while addressing the council.

Compensation

The council also asked the City Attorney to ensure that affected families are compensated for injuries and property damage. A representative from the City Attorney’s office said it’s received 145 claims so far, but she did not know how many had been paid out.

Price also wants city staffers and LAPD to figure out how to pay his district back for a $1 million fund it set up for affected families.

“[The fund] draws directly from my Reimagining Public Safety dollars,” Price said. “But let me be clear, I think the money should be coming from the LAPD, and I expect it to be paid back into our reinvestment fund,” he added.

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Additionally, the council voted to develop updated protocols for handling emergencies like this in the future.

Chief Moore said the department was doing a “top to bottom” review of bomb squad operations.

Moore also clarified that Price’s office was not notified of the planned detonation before it happened last month, which was against current protocol.

“We fell short of what our expectations of the local command were, and what they are,” Moore said.

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Robert Garrova is reporting on the intersection of mental health and law enforcement.