LAPD pulls Kennedy death items from exhibit


LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Police Department apologized Wednesday to the family of Robert F. Kennedy for exhibiting the tie, white shirt and black jacket the senator was wearing when he was assassinated in 1968.

After a complaint from the family, the LAPD removed the items from a display at a homicide investigators conference in Las Vegas.

"This is supposed to be a learning experience," Police Chief Charlie Beck said. "It wasn't intended to cause anyone grief or to be prurient or salacious in any way."

Kennedy was shot in the head by Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Beck said it was the first time the clothing had been on display.

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, has viewed the clothing many times and said it contains spots that are likely blood.

Other items in the exhibit, titled "Behind the Scenes," included gloves and a knit cap from the O.J. Simpson murder trial and a rope tied around the neck of Sharon Tate and other weapons used when six people were killed by the Manson family 40 years ago.

Debra Tate, the sister of Sharon Tate, said she and family members of other victims should have been notified that evidence was going to be shown.

"A little warning would have been nice so we could prepare ourselves emotionally," Tate said. "It's part of the insensitivity the department shows toward victims. We're being victimized over and over again."

Tate plans to complain to the LAPD. But she said she understands the value of the exhibit.

"I understand using it as a teaching tool and keeping the public aware of how heinous these murders were," she said. "From that aspect it's very important."

The Kennedy items were removed before the exhibit opened to the public Wednesday. The display, which is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., ends today.

The display was prepared by the Los Angeles Police Department for the 2010 California Homicide Investigators Conference at the Palms hotel and casino resort.

The exhibit also included photographs, video footage and vintage vehicles from Los Angeles homicide investigations spanning 100 years.

Palms owner George Maloof said he toured the exhibit and thought it was tastefully and professionally done.

Police spokesman Mary Grady said Kennedy family made the only complaint she was aware of. She said the evidence on display had all been presented in court and was part of the public record. Photos of many of the items were posted on Web sites, she said.

"We have a line of people out the door waiting to see it," Grady said.

Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley said his office was pleased to contribute to the exhibit.

"The Los Angeles Police Department's homicide investigators have again and again demonstrated their ability to put together evidence on all sorts of crimes and certainly the more notorious killings in the city," he said.

Photographs and memorabilia from high-profile cases also were obtained from the Los Angeles Police Historical Society Museum.

Other cases highlighted included Marilyn Monroe's death, the Black Dahlia killing in 1947, the 1997 North Hollywood bank shootout and the 1974 Symbionese Liberation Army shootout.

 

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