On Tuesday October 11, 30-year veteran Sal LaBarbera was standing on Wilmington Avenue in Los Angeles after responding to a call regarding a gang-related shooting. The victim was 32-year-old Oscar Arevalo and his body was lying on the street covered in a bloody sheet when LaBarbera took a picture of the victim from the crime scene. LaBarbera then posted the picture to his @Lamurdercop Twitter account with the caption “Guess where I’m at??? It never ends”. LaBarbera’s Twitter profile has just under 1,500 followers and his profile is public as well. LaBarbera is a supervisor for the Criminal Gang/Homicide Division and leads the FBI/LAPD SOS Homicide Task Force according to his Google page.
According to a response to an LA Weekly article about the Twitter post, LaBarbera doesn’t see any issue with posting the photo for the public to see. The detective claims that other officers around the country do the exact same thing and television shows like The First 48 show more graphic details than his photo from the Arevalo crime scene. While the LAPD has recently been using Twitter to monitor for signs of upcoming flash mobs as well as using both Facebook and Twitter to identify rioters who committed crimes after the L.A. Lakers NBA championship last year, LAPD officials haven’t commented on social media policy regarding publishing crime scene photos for the public to view immediately after the crime has occurred.
While LaBarbera doesn’t claim any wrongdoing by posting the photo, he has since deleted the tweet from his Twitter account. However, he did not delete the photo and the detail of the tweet from the third party photo hosting service yfrog as seen on his account as of the time of this post. Any existing family of Oscar Arevalo is highly likely to find the tweet insensitive in nature, thus the reason for deleting the tweet and photo could be related to potential legal action against the LAPD.