The Use and Abuse of "celebrities" Dec 14, 2013 5:52:27 GMT -5
Post by artemis on Dec 14, 2013 5:52:27 GMT -5
LOS ANGELES (TheWrap) - Publicist Ronni Chasen was murdered with a gun stolen from a police officer, TheWrap has learned.
Beverly Hills police have completed their investigation into and closed the case of the murder of the Hollywood publicist, killed on Sunset Boulevard November 16 of last year while driving home from a premiere party for the movie "Burlesque."
A law enforcement official told TheWrap that police determined the murder weapon was a revolver stolen from a police officer during a burglary in the San Fernando Valley. It is unclear what department that officer works for and when the weapon was stolen.
Chasen was shot four, rather than five times. That confirms TheWrap's March 30 scoop that Chasen was shot four times.
Chasen was not the victim of a professional hit.
Ex-con Harold Smith, the suspect who shot himself to death on December 1, had seven bullets and three gloves in his pocket when he died. Police are convinced Smith killed Chasen.
The crime scene is consistent with an altercation such as an attempted robbery or road rage. Chasen's car window was open a few inches.
The individual said that the final police report on the case was completed on Monday and that members of Chasen's family were at the Beverly Hills Police Department that day.
That person said police determined that one of the bullets exited Chasen's body and then hit her again, possibly when she turned her body.
Police are releasing the Mercedes that Chasen was driving the night of her murder to her family.
The public affairs officer of the Beverly Hills Police Department was unavailable Thursday. The watch commander on duty was unaware of the details of the case and declined to comment on it.
Reached by TheWrap, Chasen's brother, screenwriter Larry Cohen, declined comment except to say, "whatever the police release, they release."
The police were expected to officially pronounce the case closed on Friday.
Despite rumors that swirled around Hollywood in the weeks after the murder, police believe the killing was not a professional hit for several reasons: Chasen was hit in the shoulder and chest, rather than in a tight pattern.
A professional would have used a more powerful weapon, the investigation concluded. A professional hit would have been in a more remote location. Chasen, who was 64, had received no death threats, was involved in no legal battles and seemed to live a normal life.
Among the indications of the "normal life": she had recently made a deposit on a rental chateau in France.
The report reiterates what Beverly Hills Police Chief Dave Snowden said during a press conference in December -- that the gun Smith used to commit suicide is the same weapon used to murder Chasen.
At the time, Snowden said, "We believe that Mr. Smith acted alone, we don't believe it was a professional hit."
And again: what did we expect? The truth? Never.
"Beverly Hills Police Stand By Their “Final Conclusion” In Ronni Chasen Case (Updated)
Los Angeles Times: coroner's report 'raises questions' about circumstances of 2010 murder
A report from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office is raising questions about the official police account of the November 2010 murder of longtime showbiz publicist Ronni Chasen.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the autopsy report stated that while Chasen was stopped at a red light at the intersection, “an unknown vehicle pulled up and someone fired approximately four gunshots into her vehicle.” But that account, based on initial informant and witness statements, came in a coroner investigator’s narrative that was prepared on Nov. 16, the same day that Chasen was murdered.
Beverly Hills police and other investigators later concluded that Chasen was shot by small-time crook Harold Martin Smith, who pulled up alongside her car on a bike and tried to rob her. Smith later shot himself in a Hollywood apartment building as police were trying to bring him in for questioning.
The Nov. 16, 2010 coroner’s report is based on statements that Beverly Hills police detective Chris Coulter made to Lt. Larry Dietz of the Forensic Science Center. It states that while Chasen “was stopped at a red light at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Whittier Drive an unknown vehicle pulled up and someone fired approximately 4 gunshots into her vehicle. All witnesses report hearing 4 gunshots. After being struck by gunfire and she then made a left turn and drove for approximately a quarter mile before she crashed her car into a pole.”
Chasen’s violent death jolted the showbiz community. Some friends of the veteran praiser have long been skeptical of the official law enforcement account of her death.
NBC News’ Andrew Blankstein, citing a source familiar with the case, reported that the autopsy report was delayed in its release because police were trying “to protect the Chasen family.”
The police department had put a security hold on the autopsy report to protect the family’s privacy, but it was released as part of a settlement that filmmaker Ryan Katzenbach made with the county of Los Angeles after he filed suit to gain access to case file information in the homicide. He is raising money via indiegogo crowdfunding for the production of his documentary film, “6:38 — The Death of Ronni Chasen.”
Following the release of the autopsy report, the Beverly Hills Police Department released a statement about the case, saying that it is “proud of its investigation of the Ronni Chasen homicide and we stand by our final conclusion.
“The police department has always been sensitive and protective as to privacy and feelings of the Chasen family and others who have been victims of such a tragedy.
“We have great respect for the friends and family of Ms. Chasen, we are hopeful that others will continue to respect their privacy.”