LA homeless up 18 percent
In three of city's high-priority areas
LOS ANGELES (CNS)—The unhoused population in three of Los Angeles' high-priority neighborhoods has increased by an average of 18 percent, according to a yearlong count conducted by the RAND Corp., which released results Jan. 27, 2023.
The Los Angeles Longitudinal Enumeration and Demographic Survey—which focused on Hollywood, Skid Row and Venice—took place from September 2021 to October 2022 and is separate from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority's annual tally. LAHSA is conducting its 2023 count this week and expects to have results by the spring or summer.
The report found an increase in homelessness of 32% in Venice, 14.5 percent in Hollywood and 13 percent on Skid Row.
Jason Ward, the lead author and associate economist at RAND, said the count determined "that there is a
lot to be learned by measuring progress on homelessness more regularly than the once-a-year count of unsheltered people conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority."
Researchers also surveyed 400 unhoused people during the first six months. Of those individuals, nearly 80
percent said they were "continuously homeless" for over a year and 57 percent for more than three years.
Nine out of 10 respondents were interested in housing, and 29 percent were on wait lists.
According to RAND, the study is the largest count of unhoused people in Los Angeles outside of LAHSA's tally. Researchers said that though the methodology was different, the survey's results found a 15 percent increase in homelessness in the targeted areas compared to LAHSA's last count in January 2022.
LAHSA's 2022 count revealed 41,980 unhoused people in the city of Los Angeles, up 1.7 percent from 2020. In the county, there were 69,144 unhoused people, an increase of 4.1 percent.
Last year's count was followed by criticism from some officials, including members of the City Council, who pointed to issues with accessing data related to the count and inconsistencies in communication between the
agency and council districts. Some council members called for a third-party count of Los Angeles' unhoused population and a multi-year audit of authority's previous counts.
In response, LAHSA announced changes for this year's count that include using a new app, and ensuring that those counting have access to paper maps and tally sheets for counts if there are issues with connecting to the internet. Agency officials said earlier this month they also plan to hire a demographer and two data scientists for data analysis.
The RAND count determined some variation in unhoused people in the neighborhoods studied from month-to-month, with changes as high as 24 percent. Researchers attributed certain declines to city-authorized cleanups of encampments, but noted that the numbers came back up quickly.
Among the individuals surveyed, the most common answers for why unhoused people were not living in housing included never being contacted, privacy and safety concerns and issues with paperwork.
Rapper PnB slain dining
Here's the latest...
LOS ANGELES (CNS)—A search was continues for the person who gunned down rapper PnB Rock inside a well-known South Los Angeles restaurant, with police saying a social media post apparently led the attacker to the eatery to rob the singer of his jewelry.
The shooting was reported at 1:23 p.m. Monday at Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles at 106 W. Manchester Ave., where the rapper was eating lunch with his girlfriend when a man walked up to the couple, drew a handgun and demanded PnB Rock's jewelry, according to police.
"The suspect shot the victim multiples times, removed property and then left the location in a getaway car," LAPD Capt. Kelly Muniz told reporters.
Witnesses said the suspect and the victim argued during the shooting, which was captured on the restaurant's video surveillance system.
The rapper was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, Muniz said.
Born Rakim Hasheem Allen in Philadelphia, PnB Rock, 30, was based in Los Angeles at the time of his death.
Police closed Manchester Avenue in the vicinity of the shooting after the shooting and searched the immediate area for evidence and the getaway car.
PnB Rock had been at the restaurant with his girlfriend, who had posted a location-tagged photo in a since-deleted Instagram post, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said.
The rapper was "apparently with his girlfriend or a friend of his and as they're there enjoying a simple meal was brutally attacked by an individual who apparently ... came to the location after a social media posting of the artist and his (companion) accompanying him, posting on Instagram a picture of a meal at a location that was tagged," Moore told the Police Commission Tuesday morning, Sept. 13.
Moore said the assailant went to the restaurant in a car, "entered the location, directly attacked Mr. PnB Rock demanding his property, (who) had an extensive amount of jewelry and other valuables."
"A struggle ensued and PnB Rock was shot and killed. Lost his life there, simply over the jewelry and valuables he had on his person."
Investigators were examining security video from inside the restaurant to identify the shooter, Moore said.
On its official Instagram page, Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles posted a statement saying, "We are deeply sad- dened by the death of Rakim Hasheem Allen, also known as PnB Rock, an incredible artist in Los Angeles and everywhere. His passing represents an enormous loss to each and every one of us. Our most heartfelt condo- lences, thoughts and prayers go to the Allen family at this difficult time. The safety of our employees and guests are our utmost priority. We have and will continue to keep our place of business as safe as possible."
The shooting and its apparent link with an Instagram post was reminiscent of the 2020 killing of rapper Pop Smoke in the Hollywood Hills. In that case, the rapper had made a series of social media posts revealing his
location and valuables he had in his possession.
On Twitter, singer Nicki Minaj lamented PnB Rock's killing, writing, "After Pop Smoke there's no way we as rappers or our loved ones are still posting locations to our whereabouts. To show waffles & some fried chicken????! He was such a pleasure to work with. Condolences to his mom & family. This makes me feel so sick. Jesus."
Vanessa Bryant (center) and family leave court after jury award decision, Aug. 27. Screenshot
Jury award in Kobe Bryant crash amended to $30m
By FRED SHUSTER
City News Service
LOS ANGELES (CNS)—The previously announced $31 million combined jury award against Los Angeles County for Vanessa Bryant and her co-plaintiff in the helicopter crash-site photos trial should have been $30 million, a judge has determined, based on a juror's note delivered less than an hour after the higher number was read aloud in court Wednesday and reported around the world.
At a hearing in federal court Friday, Aug. 26, US District Judge John Walter read into the record that at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, a juror advised the courtroom deputy that there was an error on the verdict form as to Vanessa Bryant, who had been awarded a total of $16 million for past and future damages—including $2.5 million to be paid by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for past suffering.
According to a transcript of the Friday proceedings provided to City News Service, the courtroom deputy advised the juror to write a note explaining the alleged error. The juror then prepared a handwritten note that was filed with the court under seal. In the note, the juror stated that Vanessa Bryant should be awarded $1.5 million by the sheriff's department, not $2.5 million, for past damages.
The note states that it was the nine jurors' intent that both plaintiffs Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester be awarded equally, the judge stated.
Walter held a sealed hearing Thursday morning with counsel to discuss the matter and requested briefs by that afternoon.
"In her brief, Plaintiff Vanessa Bryant states that she is willing to agree to an amended verdict and/or judg- ment that reduces her award against the sheriff's department by $1 million to avoid any potential need for examination of jurors after they have already been discharged and potentially exposed to outside influen- ces,'' the judge said.
That lowers her total award to $15 million, the same amount levied against the county by jurors on behalf of Chester. Bryant's attorney, Luis Li, told the court that his client "truly feels that it's a just result that she was awarded the same amount as Mr. Chester. From her heart she feels that."
The judge said that in light of the circumstances, recalling the discharged jury would not have been appropriate.
"This trial and the verdict has received national publicity," he said. "The jury in this case not only left the building but had to be escorted out of the building to ensure their privacy. The juror did not notify the Court
of the potential error until almost 35 to 40 minutes after the verdicts were read after which major news organizations, including CNN, were already reporting the results of the verdict."
The judge asked attorneys to meet and confer and prepare and file separate proposed judgments for both Bryant and Chester by the end of the month.
At the conclusion of the hour-plus hearing, Bryant attorney Luis Li said that in his 30 years of practice, he's never dealt with such a "sticky issue" relating to jurors.
The damages levied against Los Angeles County were awarded to compensate for past and future mental anguish caused by the actions of county personnel who snapped and shared cell phone pictures taken at the January 2020 accident scene.
Both plaintiffs lost spouses and daughters in the crash. Bryant's husband and daughter Gianna, and Chester's wife Sarah and 13-year-old daughter Payton died in the crash on a remote Calabasas hillside.
Jurors in downtown Los Angeles reached their verdict after roughly four-and-a-half hours of deliberations on the trial's 11th day. Vanessa Bryant wept as the verdict was announced and a short time later posted a photo of herself with Kobe and Gianna, with the caption, "All for you! I love you! JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi!"
Thursday, the widow announced plans to donate proceeds from her part of the judgment to a foundation named in her husband's and daughter's memory. The nonprofit Mamba and Mambacita Sports foundation offers sports education to underserved athletes. Kobe Bryant's nickname was Black Mamba.
In calculating damages, the jury found that the sheriff's department and the Los Angeles County Fire Department both violated Bryant and Chester's constitutional rights to privacy for their loved ones in death.
Mira Hashmall, a private attorney who represented the county in the case, issued a statement after the verdict saying attorneys "will be discussing next steps with our client—meanwhile, we hope the Bryant and Chester families continue to heal from their tragic loss."
While the jury held the sheriff's department liable for maintaining a practice of sharing photos taken at accident or crime scenes, the county fire department was not found to have such a custom. The verdict came one day after what would have been Kobe Bryant's 44th birthday, and it happened on "Mamba Day"
in Los Angeles, which celebrates his life each year on Aug. 24, or 8-24, the two numbers he wore during his 20-year career with the Lakers.
An attorney for Chester had asked the panel to compel the county to pay a total of $75 million split between the widow and Chester for pain and suffering engendered when the pictures were snapped and displayed for no good reason to a bartender, attendees of an awards ceremony sent by a sheriff's deputy to a colleague while they were playing a video game.
Hashmall argued during her summation Wednesday that the photos have not surfaced in public in the two-and-a-half years since the tragedy, which proves they have been permanently deleted.
"This is a photo case, but there are no photos," the attorney told jurors in Los Angeles federal court. "There's a simple truth that cannot be ignored—there's been no public dissemination."
The county did not dispute that some photos were shared with a small number of deputies and firefighters. Defense attorneys maintained that all images taken by first responders were destroyed on orders of the sheriff and fire chief, and no longer exist in any form. The photos never entered the public domain or on the internet, the county insisted.
However, Bryant and Chester insisted they do not believe the pictures won't someday surface. Chester, an Irvine financial adviser, said on the stand he was "in disbelief at first. It never crossed my mind in my wildest imagination" that deputies and firefighters would share photos of his wife Sarah and their daughter Payton.
"It was grief on top of grief," he said. "I want justice and accountability."
The nine-member jury included a nun, a TV production worker, a college student, a real estate investor, a pharma- ceutical researcher and a restaurant host.
Along with Chester and Bryant's loved ones, the crash killed Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Keri Altobelli, 46; John Altobelli, 56; Christina Mauser, 38; and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.
Two other families separately settled with the county over the photos for $1.25 million each. All of the victims' families reached a settlement with the helicopter company over the crash, but those terms remain confidential.