<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:33:23 -0800 Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:33:23 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Police Warn of Attempted Rapes in DTLA Restrooms]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:55:59 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/12-17-14_Attempted_DTLA_Rapes.JPG

Police on Tuesday were alerting the public to be aware of their surroundings after three men were arrested in connection with a series of attempted rapes in women's restrooms in downtown Los Angeles.

There have been three attempted sexual assaults in the past two months in downtown LA restrooms. Police believe the men have either hidden inside restrooms or forced their way in, police said.

One occurred in a restaurant restroom in the area of Washington Boulevard and South Hill Street.

The other two were inside office building restrooms, officials said.

"It does surprise me," said one woman, who declined to be identified.

Another woman said she tries to avoid them.

"I try to use the one at work because it is a bit sketchy downtown," she said.

In the office buildings where the incidents took place, changes were made to make the restrooms more secure and inaccessible to outsiders.

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<![CDATA[Lakers Show Interest in Rajon Rondo]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 04:51:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-trade-talk-Rondo_12-18-14.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers got their hands dirty in trade rumors for the first time this season, and Rajon Rondo was the target.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Lakers have been involved in the Boston Celtics' trade conversations, along with the New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks.

According to Stein, the Mavs are the clear front runners to land the 28-year-old point guard. In 22 games this season, the Celtics point guard is averaging 10.8 assists, 8.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. When the Lakers played in Boston on Dec. 5, Rondo torched the Lakers with 12 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds.

The unbelievable stat from that game was that Rondo managed two more assists, 16, than the entire Lakers' team, 14.

Originally, trade rumors about Rondo coming to LA sparked when Kobe Bryant joined Rondo in Boston at a local cafe for breakfast the day before the Celtics pummeled the Lakers. Bryant complimented Rondo and praised the point guard in the lead up and follow up to the game in Boston.

According to Eric Pincus of the LA Times, Nick Young, Ed Davis, Wesley Johnson Ryan Kelly and Xavier Henry all became trade eligible as of Dec. 15. Jordan Hill, who is probably the Lakers' top trading chip, cannot be moved until Jan. 15.

For those few wondering, Kobe Bryant cannot be traded, as he is in the first year of his contract. Also, Carlos Boozer cannot be moved, as he was claimed off waivers.

Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin and Robert Sacre have been available for trades all season long.

Considering the Lakers' lack of available assets, landing Rondo would be a surprise twist to a season that has been sadly predictable thus far. If nothing else, Rondo would give Bryant time off from playing point guard, but the Lakers seem like they're a long way from pulling this off.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man Arrested After Three Cars Are Set on Fire in DTLA]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:08:02 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/12-18-2014-DTLAArson.JPG

A man has been arrested after three vehicles were torched in downtown Los Angeles early Thursday.

The first call came in at 2:44am, after a black sports car on the 1000 block of South Hill Street was set alight, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

Moments later a call came in after a PT Cruiser on the 900 block of South Hill Street was torched at 2:52 a.m. The final call came in at 3:16 a.m. after a vehicle was set on fire on the 200 block of East 11th Street.

All three fires were extinguished quickly by Los Angeles City Fire Department firefighters.

Witnesses told investigators a man had been seen in an alley lighting the vehicles, and a trash can, on fire. 

LAPD have detained a suspect in connection with all three fires. Los Angeles Fire Department Arson Investigators are also on scene.



Photo Credit: OnScene.tv]]>
<![CDATA[After Rain Storms Come Sinkholes]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:38:57 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/12-17-14-Sinkhole.JPG

Crews worked this week to repair two large sinkholes in the Los Angeles area.

One of the sinkholes was a 20-foot by 20-foot by 20-foot large gaping hole that shut down the eastbound lanes of Third Street, under the Pomona (60) Freeway

The sinkhole proved to be a lot bigger underground than it appeared from the sidewalk. Soil eroded to leave a cave some 20 feet in diameter.

It was in a precarious place, between the major surface street with the Gold Line light rail and an overpass of the 60 Freeway.

It was the second sinkhole in 24 hours to appear east of downtown LA.

In Alhambra on Tuesday afternoon, heavy equipment pulled away asphalt exposing gaping void below.

Some streets around the sinkhole at Mission Road and Marguerita Avenue remained closed Monday as crews worked to handle the problem.

The first clue Monday had been a small depression in the intersection.

Alhambra Police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said it was not visible till crews broke through the road.

"There was a void of dirt under the asphalt, something to do with the pipes that run under the bridge," he said. "That's the theory and that's what they're exploring."

The bridge crosses a below-grade railroad culvert which had been accumulating soil from an unknown source.

It was possibly being delivered by a siphon pump for runoff that malfunctioned, officials said.

After raising concerns in both locations about whether the loss of soil may have cause structural problems, engineers concluded support for the freeway, rail line, and Third Street were not compromised.
 

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<![CDATA[Three Dead After Dozen People Struck by Speeding Car]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 04:34:26 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/12-18-2014-RedondoFatal.JPG

Three people were killed and several others critically injured after being hit by a suspected drunken driver as they left a church event in a Southern California beach city Wednesday.

Up to 12 people, mostly children according to witnesses, were hit in the crash, which happened around 8 p.m. at Vincent Street and Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach.

Mary Wilson, 81,  and Saeko Imatsumura, 87, both from Torrance were confirmed dead by the LA County Coroner. The third person has yet to be identified.

A female has been arrested for vehicular manslaughter and suspected DUI, Redondo Beach Police Department said.

Victims' shoes littered the street following the incident, while the white car which initially struck the pedestrians ended up crashing into a second vehicle. 

"The crosswalk was full and the light was red. Someone ran a red light and... bodies started flying. It was pretty horrible," witness Marc Zonno said, "They flew at least two or three cars down the street, it was pretty bad. But I'm hoping everybody's going to be OK."

Shocked witness Jana Sigler said the majority of those hurt were youngsters. Most were leaving a children's Christmas pageant at St. James Catholic Church.

"Mostly children, like 8 to 10 year old. Yeah, its so sad, and most of them are really hurt bad. They already took a bunch of them to hospital, mostly head injuries," Sigler said.

The victims were taken for emergency care, with many of the victims being seriously hurt in the incident. 

"We've got...  up to 12 people transported to area hospitals, up to 3 hospitals. Many in critical condition, with at least one fatality at this point," Lt. Joe Hoffman of Redondo Beach Police Department said.

St. James Catholic Church remained open last night so people could say prayers for the wounded.

Jason Kandel contributed to this report

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<![CDATA[Watch Live: Today in LA]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 04:15:03 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/11-15-2014-nbc4-logo-1200.jpg

Android phone and tablet users can watch the livestream here.

We've launched our online livestreaming player so that you can follow along with our reporters and anchors during NBC4's on-air broadcasts.

The player above is a multiplatform tool. You can watch on your laptop at home, your computer at work and even your mobile phone.

Note: Live video will be available Monday through Friday during Today in LA, starting at 4:30 a.m.

Connect with NBC4 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+. We're also in the iTunes App Store and Google Play store for Android devices.

Our anchors and reporters can be found on social media here.

And as always, we want to hear from you. If you have a story idea or feedback, email us at tips@nbcla.com.

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<![CDATA[Woman Passes Out During Chapman University Undies Run]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 04:00:01 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/175*120/18-12-2014-UndiesRun.JPG

A woman passed out while taking part in the Chapman University Undie Run Wednesday.

Orange County Fire Department provided aid, and no other incidents were reported during the now traditional event.

Several hundred students participated in fun run, which takes place on during finals week.

The run starts on campus and continues to the Orange Circle and then returns back to campus.

No arrests were reported at the event, which is not officially sanctioned by the university.



Photo Credit: OnScene.tv]]>
<![CDATA[Men Kidnapped Outside LA County Target Store]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 03:37:49 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/siren3.jpg

Two men were kidnapped at gunpoint outside a Target store then robbed in Commerce Wednesday.

They were approached by two other males in the shop’s parking lot on the 5600 block of Whittier Boulevard at 7:45 p.m, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department said.

One of the assailants pulled out a gun, got in the victims’ car then  instructed them to drive them to a house at another location on Simmons Avenue.

After arriving at the location, the suspects robbed them of numerous items, including $600 in cash, a Seiko watch, Galaxy cell phone, and a diamond ring. The victims were not injured

Afterwards the robbers, who are described as being between 20 and 25-years-old, fled the scene in a Ford-F-150 white colored truck with a black bra on front.

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<![CDATA[Teen and Grandmother Die Crossing Street]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 02:58:47 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/12-18-2014-HemetFatal.JPG

A teenager recently reunited with the family she never knew she had was killed after being hit by a car near Hemet Tuesday.

Chloe Harris, 17, and her grandmother Kathy Whitehair both died after being struck while crossing the road at 8th Street and Florida Avenue, which is also Highway 74 and has a 55 mph speed limit, in pitch blackness.

Harris had only recently moved to the area after reuniting with her father, and he is devastated by what happened. 

"I just recently found out about my daughter (and) she found out about me, and I just had her in my life for 3 months. I just wish it were longer." her parent Chris Whitehair said.

According to a witness, Harris tried to push her grandmother out of the way of the oncoming vehicle. While she died at the scene, Kathy Whitehair died just hours later in hospital.

The driver stopped after the incident and was not arrested. Hemet Police Department says an investigation is into the incident is ongoing.

Harris’ family knows they were jaywalking by not using a crosswalk, but believe the road is unlit and dangerous, especially as a bus stop and shop are at the location where the crash happened.

They seriously need to put a street light or a stop sign or a crosswalk or something. her cousin Brittney Pulatie said.

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<![CDATA[Convict Dies Following Fight With Cellmate in OC Jail]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 02:10:40 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/12-18-2014-TheoLacy.jpg

A convict has died after fighting with a fellow inmate in an Orange County prison.

Thiep Truong Nguyen, 49, was critically injured by his 39-year-old cellmate at  at Theo Lacy Jail just before midday Tuesday, Orange County Sheriff's Department said.

Nguyen, of Westminster, was found unconscious inside the cell, and died of his injuries at a hospital Wednesday.

The name of the suspect is being withheld pending the outcome of an investigation being conducted by the Orange County District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation.

City News Service contributed to this article

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<![CDATA[Police Pursuit Ends in Multi-Car Crash in Beverly Hills]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:59:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/141217-beverly-hills-crash.jpg

A police pursuit of two people in a stolen vehicle ended in a multi-car crash in Beverly Hills on Wednesday, officials said.

The short pursuit took place about 3 p.m. when the driver refused to pull over for a traffic stop, officials with the Beverly Hill Police Department said.

The driver struck a car, sending both vehicles crashing into a third vehicle at Charleville Boulevard and Roxy Drive, police said. The collisions spread debris across the intersection.

The driver and a passenger were taken to the hospital, where they were in stable condition.
No one else was hurt, police said.

“We are very fortunate that no other people were injured,” said police Sgt. Max Subin.
Drivers were advised to avoid the area.

The driver and passenger face charges of evading police, and possibly charges in connection with the stolen vehicle.

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<![CDATA[Judge Bows Out of Garner Hearing]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 04:00:51 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/eric+garner+death+inset+new.jpg

The state Supreme Court judge who was set to preside over a hearing Friday to decide whether the documents from the Eric Garner grand jury proceedings could be released to the public has recused himself from the case, NBC 4 New York has learned.

Judge Stephen Rooney removed himself from the case because his wife works at Richmond University Medical Center, the same hospital where the EMTs who responded to the Garner call worked, multiple officials familiar with the case proceedings said. 

As a result, Friday's hearing will be postponed until January, when a new judge is expected to be assigned. 

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James said Rooney's recusal raises more questions than answers and "further underscores the need to release the grand jury minutes related to the investigation of Eric Garner's death." 

"The only way to restore the public's faith in our justice system is to bring sunlight into the court system," she said in a statement, adding that she is directing her legal team to continue fighting in court for disclosure. 

NBC 4 New York first reported earlier this month that Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan did not ask grand jurors to consider a reckless endangerment charge in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

Donovan only asked grand jurors to consider manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges against NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the cop seen on widely-watched amateur video wrapping his arm around Garner's neck as the heavyset, asthmatic 43-year-old yelled, "I can't breathe!" nearly a dozen times during the July 17 confrontation, the source said.

It's not clear why Donovan left the lesser charge off the table, and he has said strict confidentiality laws surrounding grand jury proceedings prevent him from discussing the details of the case.

Donovan had submitted an application to the court seeking authorization to publicly release specific elements of the proceedings but the only information released when Rooney granted his request a day later involved the number of exhibits the jurors saw, how long they heard evidence and how many witnesses they heard it from. The application was sealed, so it's not clear if he had petitioned the judge to release information about the charges the jurors considered.

Last week, the New York Civil Liberties Union formally petitioned for the public release of the grand jury record, and the hearing on it was scheduled for this Friday. 

The grand jury in the Garner case delivered a vote on Dec. 3 of "no true bill," which determined there was not probable cause that Pantaleo committed any criminal offense the panel was tasked with considering. The decision set off protests in New York City and across the country.

The NYPD said its internal review of the case is ongoing, and the U.S. Department of Justice said it also is investigating.  



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[LA Cubans at Odds Over Obama's Change in Cuban Policy]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 19:52:37 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/141217-cubans-policy.jpg

Inside a small cafe in Hawthorne, aptly called "Cafe Cuba and Cakes," local Cuban immigrants gathered Wednesday to discuss what they saw as a surprise move from Washington: an announcement to restore diplomatic and economic ties with the island country.

"I feel sad, I feel betrayed," said Redondo Beach resident Oscar Pechardo.

The story of Pechardo's escape from Cuba reaches back 50 years. As a young boy, he was one of 14,000 Cuban refugee children smuggled off the island with help from the Catholic Church and the U.S. State Department. "Operation Pedro Pan" (Peter Pan) was a secret program that left many of those children orphans, an option their parents believed was much better than living under the rule of Fidel Castro.

Pechardo's family was later able to escape as well, and settled in Los Angeles.

"The one area that we looked to the United States was for leadership against oppression, and now it's not even there," Pechardo said.

Estela Bueno called the announcement a slap in the face for her parents, who left Cuba with nothing more than the clothes on their back.

"I was in shock," she said. "This is the saddest day of my life."

She says her parents gave up everything for one thing: freedom.

"It's an insult for the Cubans," said Arturo Bueno, Estela's husband.

All three of the group are "Pedro Pans," with views on President Barack Obama's change in policy they say even he doesn't understand.

Pechardo says while many argue that the U.S. can peacefully work with other communist countries like China and Vietnam, he says none have the unique ability to tout the same family of dictators like Cuba has for the last 55 years.

"Cuba is one big company, owned by the Castro Family," Pechardo said. "The Cuban people are still going to suffer under this dictatorship."

And yet there seems to be a generational gap in the views of what's happening in Cuba. Luke Salas of Malibu is part of the group "Roots of Hope" which has been working towards greater Internet accessibility in Cuba. He says the announcement from the White House is an important first step towards change on the island.

"The key is this is the direction that will hopefully create the possibility," he said, "and once you create possibility, then anything can be created."

Salas, the son of Cuban immigrants, is working independently on a documentary about baseball in Cuba. He says he looks forward to the open discussions of opportunity for entrepreneurship in Cuba, but adds that he does not forget the struggles his own family faced to escape Castro's Cuba.

"It's about understanding what's happened is the past and it plays a role but moving forward," Salas said, "this is about giving children in Cuba an opportunity to hopefully one day live their own dreams and pursue their own dreams, just as I have here in the United States."

For Pechardo, he says the younger generations don't understand the past enough to make decisions for the future.

"There's nothing wrong with what these people want," Pechardo said, "but they haven't lived it. They don't understand it. They don't understand that you cannot trust, whatever the Castro government tells you, you can't trust it."

It's the same message he sends to President Obama, adding, "They keep saying we're going to deal with the Cuban people - no you are not. You're going to deal with the Cuban government, which is the hierarchy that's in place now and has been for 50 years."

Estela Bueno agreed, saying, "the Castros know how to manipulate everybody and this is another example of how he manipulated Obama."

Pechardo goes a step further, saying, "Basically it's a dictatorship, cruel, repressive and now the American people are certifying this dictatorship."

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<![CDATA[Driver Faces Felony DUI in Crash That Hurt Christmas Spectators]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 21:08:37 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/12-15-14-ismael-soto-booking-alhambra.jpg

A suspected drunken driver cried in a Southern California courtroom Wednesday when he faced felony charges in a crash that hurt more than a dozen bystanders looking at Christmas decorations.

Ismael Soto, 28, is accused of plowing his pickup truck into a minivan, sending the van spinning into a crowd of spectators and leaving 15 people hurt, including himself, police said.

Soto, who has prior convictions including DUI and hit-and-run, was allegedly driving on a revoked license with a blood alcohol content higher than .20 percent when he crashed Sunday night, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

The crash hurt at least six children and left a 27-year-old woman in the intensive care unit with a serious head injury. Police first said 13 people were hurt but on Wednesday changed the number to 15.

"To see those kids crying and their parents on the ground injured, (it) just tears at your heartstrings," witness Gary Taylor said. "The guy has no concern otherwise he wouldn't have gotten behind the wheel."

Court records show Soto was convicted in February 2013 of driving with a suspended license and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, and November 2013 for driving under the influence and hit-and-run.

Soto was also convicted in 2013 of driving with a suspended license. A judge then revoked his license in November 2013 after he allegedly refused a chemical test, records showed.

Soto is now facing charges including DUI causing injury within 10 years of two other DUI offenses; driving with a .08 percent blood alcohol content causing injury within 10 years; driving while license was suspended or revoked for DUI conviction; and driving a vehicle not equipped with an ignition interlock device when driving privilege was restricted,

He could more than 20 years behind bars if convicted. But some who saw the crash say that's not enough.

"They should charge him at least five years for every person that he injured (to) make sure he never comes out and stays in there for the rest of his life," witness Gilbert Armenta said. "For the rest of his life so he could rot in there."

The DA's office could not immediately confirm whether Soto had a lawyer. His arraignment was postponed to Jan. 13.



Photo Credit: Alhambra Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Rain-Soaked Ceiling Falls on Sleeping Hotel Guest]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 09:32:46 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/12-17-2014-ceiling-falls-hotel-guest.jpg

A surprised hotel guest who traveled from Canada to visit Disneyland suffered minor cuts and bruises when part of a rain-soaked ceiling fell on her overnight as a storm pounded Southern California.

Saturated drywall above the hotel room bed broke apart at about 2 a.m. and fell onto the guest at the Alamo Inn & Suites in Anaheim, according to the Anaheim Fire Department. The woman, who traveled from Vancouver, Canada to visit Disneyland, was hospitalized with minor injuries to her chin and face.

Paolo Ang, a friend of the woman, was sleeping in a next-door room when he heard the collapse.

"It was a huge bang," Ang said. "It sounded like someone dropped onto the floor from the bed."

The ceiling was waterlogged after nearly two days of heavy rains that continued overnight in Southern California.

The visitors still plan on stopping by Disneyland after their friend is released from the hospital, Ang said.



Photo Credit: OnSceneTV]]>
<![CDATA[1 Dead, 2 Hospitalized in West LA Shooting]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 22:49:40 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/12-17-2014-west-la-shooting.jpg

Police were looking for witnesses on Wednesday after a triple-shooting near a high school campus in the West Los Angeles area left one person dead, police said.

Gunfire erupted at 9:03 a.m., police said. Officials found victims in the 8900 block of West Helms Place and in the 3100 block of South Helms Place, said Katherine Main of the LA Fire Department.

Police described a man wearing dark clothing, "carrying a gun and chasing victims through the neighborhood." Aerial video showed several patrol vehicles along Helms Place, just off the Santa Monica (10) Freeway.

It wasn't clear how many people the police were searching for because the victims were "not cooperating with police."

Video from the scene showed officers in protective tactical gear with guns drawn in front of a home on Kramerwood Place. Police detained two women and one man for questioning.

Campus officials lifted the lockdown at Hamilton High School just before 11 a.m., an LAUSD spokeswoman said.

Three victims, all men or boys, were taken to the hospital critical condition, police said. One of the three died in the hostipal Wednesday afternoon.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[LAPD On-Body Camera Policy Specifics Unclear]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 09:33:24 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/230*120/12-17-14-los+angeles+police+lapd+on+body+cameras.JPG

By Jan. 1, 700 Los Angeles police officers will be equipped with on-body cameras. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday from LAPD Headquarters.

The news comes after a year of beta-testing various technology and brands.

"The time for action is now," Garcetti said. "We are executing a contract to deploy more than 700 body cams in Central, Mission and Newton Divisions." The cost is about $1.5 million to start, the mayor saying it could cost no more than $9 million annually to maintain depending on the contract the City is able to get from the supplier, Tazer International.

"These measures are not a substitute for open lines of communication," Garcetti said. "Cameras are a critical step forward, but we must make sure the bridge we've built does not get weakened."

The LA Police Protective League applauded the announcement saying. President Tyler Izen said the union does not object to the idea but "actually believe they will be useful in defending our officers against false allegations."

But while the mayor plans to roll out the first of the cameras by the first of the year, there's still concern about policy. Police officers themselves, the Department as a whole, the Police Commission, City Council and citizens of LA still have time to comment about how the cameras should be used.

LAPD is taking suggestions on their website but Police Chief Charlie Beck says nearly all interaction with the public will be recorded. Exceptions to the rule could include interactions in private homes and interviews with victims of abuse.

"The trust between a community and its police department can be eroded in a single moment," Garcetti said. "Trust is built on the truth, and trust is build on transparency."

It's that transparency that's lead to outcry across the nation. While LA had been looking into the on-body cameras for a few years, Beck drew parallels to the video from the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, Missouri this year.

"What happens in Ferguson, a town not even the size of one of the police divisions in LA, has affected us," he said, but that LA will lead the nation in its response, "equipping every one of our officers with these cameras says a lot about how much faith we have in our cops."

A demonstration of the cameras helped reporters understand what officers are able to gather with the cameras. Both audio and video are part of it, but it only begins when the officer manually presses the record button.

Sgt. Dan Gomez explained, "When I double-click it, it's going to turn on, you hear the beep. I know the system's on, it's being recorded, you have an interaction and when I'm done with the interaction, I simply press and hold and I hear a long beep and now I know the system is off."

Some critics have questioned the timing of when officers would push the record button. Gomez explained that the camera's default is that once the record button is pushed, the video adds a 30-second "pre-roll" to catch the preceding 30 seconds before the recording started.

"We will have policies and rules on when you should record and when you shouldn't and the officers will be held accountable for that," he said.

Chief Beck says all the video recorded will instantly be saved on a cloud with Evidence.com, officers will be required to "dock" their cameras after every shift.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California has voiced its concern with the cameras, calling the move encouraging but far from solving every problem in policing.

"Deciding to adopt cameras is a significant step," ACLU of SoCal Executive Director Hector Villagers said in a statement, "but the Los Angeles Police Department has yet to do the most important work of setting policies that determine how they’re actually used. For body cameras to fulfill their promise as tools for accountability, they have to be turned on whenever an officer contacts a civilian for investigative purposes — officers can’t have discretion to 'edit on the fly' by turning cameras off. And if cameras are going to be tools used to shed light on what really happened, police officers can’t be allowed to review videos of critical incidents before they give initial statements or interviews on what happened."

Sgt. Gomez showed how police would have access to review videos on their cellphones using Bluetooth technology, but pointed out that none of the video could be manipulated before being sent to the cloud.

But as the program moves forward, Beck says he hopes LA will set the standard for the nation.

"The entire nation waits to see what happens in LA," he said.

Garcetti also used the news conference Tuesday to announce his nomination for President Obama's Task Force on 20th Century Policing, nominating Beck to the team, as he put it, "to show what LA can do for America."

The on-body cameras are set to roll out on 700 officers by January first with all officers expected to be equipped with them by July 2016.

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<![CDATA[After the Storm: Snow, Clouds and Rainbows]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 16:51:06 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/08fdb8536acc4733b06f1bb8ef7e9af6.jpg After the heavy downpour Thursday night and Friday morning, NBC4 viewers have seen remnants of the storm, like rainbows and billowing clouds.

Photo Credit: Edwin Baktanian]]>
<![CDATA[San Francisco 49ers Release Ray McDonald]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:43:01 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ray-mcdonald-new.jpg

The San Francisco 49ers released Ray McDonald on Wednesday after San Jose police revealed the defensive lineman is under investigation for an alleged sexual assault.

"This isn't about just this incident. This is about a pattern of poor decision-making,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “This is a team decision, not a league decision.”

Police executed a search warrant at McDonald's San Jose home on Tuesday. He has not been arrested. This is the second time in recent months that McDonald has been the subject of a police investigation.

"We just want to inform everybody that after the recent allegations concerning Ray McDonald, we as an organization have notified him and his agent that he will be terminated, released immediately. Effective immediately," Baalke said.

Baalke said CEO Jed York and coach Jim Harbaugh, who notified the players, were also involved in the decision. "We expect a lot from our players, hold them accountable for their actions,'' Baalke said.

In a statement released earlier in the day, SJPD Sgt. Heather Randol said police were called to an area hospital at 10:43 a.m. Tuesday morning regarding a "possible sexual assault victim" who was receiving treatment. Officers spoke to the woman, and she told them she was "possibly assaulted" on Monday.

The "preliminary investigation revealed the alleged suspect was Ray McDonald," Randol said.

The San Jose Police Department Sexual Assaults Investigations Unit  responded to conduct follow-up investigation.  Based on preliminary investigation, detectives secured a search warrant at McDonald's home some time on Tuesday. The woman's identity was not revealed, but two sources told NBC Bay Area that she is not McDonald's fiancee.

Players said they were shocked by the team’s decision to cut McDonald, but understand the reason.

“This is an organization, it’s a franchise,” quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “You want to have a high standard and we do around here. You have to be able to abide by that.

Reached by phone in Florida on Wednesday, McDonald's mother, Labrina McDonald, said she didn't yet know the full story but insisted it was a "bunch of mess. There's  no truth to it at all."

She added that her son has “cameras all over his house” after his home was broken into, which she said will show that “he’s been targeted.”

“This is just an accusation, anyone can make it. It has no merit to it,” she said. “I don’t like that they’re releasing him, and that this cost him his job.”

She offered no other details, and said her son asked her not to divulge any more.

McDonald was arrested on Aug. 31 after his pregnant fiancee at the time accused him of choking and punching her at his 30th birthday party at his home in San Jose.

On Nov. 10, the Santa Clara County District Attorney decided there was not enough evidence to charge him, Two female prosecutors investigated the altercation, releasing a public memo,  deciding there weren't any "verifiable witnesses." McDonald had steadfastly denied harming his fiancee.

After the arrest, he told CSN Bay Area he was "doing stuff to try to better our relationship."

When asked for a comment Wednesday regarding the latest sexual assault allegation, an NFL spokesman said, "We are looking into it."

The Associated Press and CSN Bay Area contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty
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<![CDATA[Cuts Didn't Kill Accused Pa. Killer]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 04:14:26 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Stone+Body+Found+Pennsburg+Scene+Face.jpg

How exactly the former Marine suspected in this week's killing spree in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, died is unclear after an examination by the county's coroner.

Coroner Dr. Walter Hoffman tells NBC10's Deanna Durante there was no sign of trauma to Bradley Stone's center region, contradicting information released by prosecutors on Tuesday.

District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman had said at a briefing Tuesday that it appeared Stone took his own life and had "self-inflicted cutting wounds to the center of his body."  She did add, however, they were awaiting an official report by the coroner.

Hoffman initially said Stone suffered no trauma to his body, then clarified that although the 35-year-old did have a cut to his leg, the trauma was not something that caused his death. He did not say whether it were self-inflicted.

Sources said there were two medicine bottles found on Stone's body and that one contained a crushed-up powder substance. An energy drink container with powder on the rim was also recovered, sources said.

Hoffman said he is awaiting toxicology results to make a final determination on how Stone died. He has expedited the testing and expects an answer by next week.

An intense manhunt was launched Monday for Stone, after prosecutors say he shot or stabbed his ex-wife Nicole Hill Stone and six members of her family early Monday. Six of them died. Hill Stone's 17-year-old nephew Anthony Flick is the lone survivor. He suffered a gaping head wound and serious cuts to his arm.

Stone was found dead in the woods near his Pennsburg home Tuesday after two days of searching.

The coroner has also released autopsy information, along with the official causes of deaths, for Stone's victims.

Stone's ex-wife Nicole, 33, was shot multiple times, just feet away from the couple's two daughters, aged 8 and 5. Nicole's mother, Joanne Gilbert, was shot in the head and had cuts to her neck. Grandmother Patricia Hill, 75, was shot in the head.

Nicole's sister, Trisha Flick, 36, was shot in the head and also suffered gunshot wounds to her arm. Her husband A.J. Flick had "chopping" injuries to his hands and head. Tricia and A.J.'s 14-year-old daughter, Nina, also died from chopping wounds to her head.

A large handled machete and a double-bladed axe-type instrument were found near the Stone's body, according to sources. They both appear to be coated in blood.

The Department of Veteran Affairs says Stone had post-traumatic stress disorder but that he didn't have any suicidal or homicidal thoughts when he met with his psychiatrist on Dec. 8.



Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA["State of Emergency" in North Bay After Storms]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 10:58:33 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/Novato+Levee+Breach+1.jpg

The boards of supervisors in two North Bay counties proclaimed states of emergencies on Tuesday night, saying the damage because of the rains and flooding have reached at least $18 million in both their areas.

Sonoma County board of supervisors spokeswoman Rebecca Wachsberg said damage estimates there have reached at least $17 million. And the Marin County board of supervisors estimated the damage there to be at leat $1 million.

Both declarations allow the counties to apply for state and federal aid to help pay for repairs. 

The Marin County board ratification came one day after county administrator Matthew Hymel proclaimed a local emergency, and hours after a mudslide closed Tennesse Valley Road, which leads to a popular hiking trail.  In addition, one of the levees near downtown Novato was intentionally breached as an emergency measure to lower flood water on Novato Creek. And a portion of Highway 1 near Muir Woods crumbled last week.

The entire Bay Area has been drenched with rain - much needed after three years of drought - but the precipitation has most severely damaged the North Bay,  including residents of Tiburon, where a hillside crumbled into residents' backyards.

Marin County spokesman Brent Ainsworth said this is the fourth such state of emergency proclamation because of storms in the last decade. The board of supervisors declared states of emergencies in 2005, 2006 and 2011, as well.

But just because a county asks for state help, doesn't mean they get it all. In 2005, for example, the county suffered $12 million in damages, and Ainsworth said FEMA reimbursed the county for $8 million of it.

There is at least one silver lining to all the storm damage in Marin County, about an hour's drive north of San Francisco - four of the seven county reservoirs are full, and the others are nearly flush with water.

Updates: Interactive Radar and Severe Weather Alerts

NBC Bay Area's Mark Matthews contributed to this report.




Photo Credit: Marin County
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<![CDATA[Influential Republicans Slam Opening to Cuba]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:30:26 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/121714+marco+rubio+discusses+developments+in+cuba.jpg

Reaction to changes in U.S.-Cuba relations fell mostly along party lines on Wednesday, with prospective GOP presidential candidates Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio denouncing the decision by the Obama administration.

Bush, the former governor of Florida, called the move toward easing ties with Cuba President Obama's latest misstep.

Though he said he was delighted that American Alan Gross had been released from a Cuban prison, he charged that Obama had again overstepped his executive authority.

"Cuba is a dictatorship with a disastrous human rights record, and now President Obama has rewarded those dictators," he said. "We should instead be fostering efforts that will truly lead to the fair, legitimate democracy that will ultimately prevail in Cuba."

Rubio, a Cuban-American from Florida, called the opening the latest in a long line of failed attempts by Obama to appease rogue regimes.

The president’s decision to begin normalizing relations with Cuba is inexplicable, Rubio said, while Cuba, like Syria, Iran and Sudan, remains a sponsor of terrorism.

“It colludes with America's enemies, near and far, to threaten us and everything we hold dear,” he said. “But most importantly, the regime's brutal treatment of the Cuban people has continued unabated. Dissidents are harassed, imprisoned and even killed.”

The new course announced by the White House, which covers diplomatic relations, cultural exchanges, economic engagements, religious travel and other policies, does not affect the longtime economic embargo. Only Congress can change that.

And said Rubio: “This Congress is not going to lift the embargo.”

Unlike many other Democrats, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat who is the second Cuban-American in the Senate, criticized the exchange of Gross for three Cubans in prison in the United States as a swap of an innocent American for three convicted spies.

"President Obama's actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government,” he said.

With the exchange, the president established a dangerous precedent that invites dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans as bargaining chips, he said.

"This asymmetrical trade will invite further belligerence toward Cuba's opposition movement and the hardening of the government's dictatorial hold on its people,” he said.

Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, said that as attitudes toward Cuba have changed among younger Cuban Americans, opposition to the regime there comes with risks for politicians. Obama carried Cuban Americans in Florida in 2012, he said.

“People under 45 have a very different view than people over 45,” he said. “So it’s clearly a generational difference.”

Opinions shaped in 1960s, during the Cuban missile crisis and the Bay of Pigs invasion, do not necessarily still hold.

“So being opposed to the regime in Cuba is no longer a free ride for politicians,” he said. “There’s risks and costs.”

A poll done by Florida International University has tracked opinions of the Cuban-American community in South Florida for two decades. This year, it found that a slight majority of CubanAmericans in Miami-Dade County opposed continuing the embargo — 52 percent overall and 62 percent among those 18 to 29 years old. Sixty-eight percent favored diplomatic relations with Cuba and 69 percent backed lifting restrictions impeding all Americans from traveling to Cuba.

But 63 percent said they believed Cuba should continue to be designated a “State Sponsor of Terrorism,” with Iran, Sudan and Syria.

Among registered voters, 53 percent said they would be very likely or somewhat likely to vote for a candidate who supported re-establishing diplomatic relations. Fifty-seven percent said they would be very or somewhat likely to vote for someone who backed replacing the embargo with a policy that increased support for independent business owners in Cuba.

Much other reaction from national politicians fell along party lines, though some politicians took neutral tones.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who is to become the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that he was pleased Gross was being reunited with his family after years of mistreatment by the Castro regime.

"The new U.S. policy announced by the administration is no doubt sweeping, and as of now there is no real understanding as to what changes the Cuban government is prepared to make,” he said. “We will be closely examining the implications of these major policy changes in the next Congress."

Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona released a joint statement on Obama's announcement.

"We agree with President Obama that he is writing new chapters in American foreign policy. Unfortunately, today's chapter, like the others before it, is one of America and the values it stands for in retreat and decline," the statement read. "It is about the appeasement of autocratic dictators, thugs, and adversaries, diminishing America's influence in the world. Is it any wonder that under President Obama's watch our enemies are emboldened and our friends demoralized?"

House Speaker John Boehner also denounced the president's policy change.

"Relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom - and not one second sooner. There is no 'new course' here, only another in a long line of mindless concessions to a dictatorship that brutalizes its people and schemes with our enemies," Boehner said.

Florida Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that although he was happy for Gross and his family, the exchange made America less safe and emboldened the dictatorship in Cuba.

“This prisoner swap sends a signal to rogue regimes and actors that taking an American hostage can be leveraged into scoring policy concessions,” he said.

But two Republicans broke ranks, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina.

Flake, who traveled with Democrats Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland to Havana to pick up Gross, said the policies in place had done more to keep the Castro regimes in power.

Sanford said the existing travel policy was inconsistent with individual liberty and freedom of movement. The move toward establishing a U.S. embassy in Cuba was wise, he said.

Leahy, the chairman of the State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, congratulated Obama and Cuba President Raul Castro for making history.

“After 64 years of animosity rooted in the Cold War, they have finally put our two countries on a new path,” said Leahy, a Democrat who had visited Gross twice in prison in Cuba and who has led efforts for fundamental changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba.

U.S. policy has been frozen in time and had failed to achieved its goals, he said.

Michigan Democrat Sen. Carl Levin, who also met with Gross in prison, said that Gross’ release sends a message to Americans held around the world that the country will not forget them.

“A more regular relationship between the United States and Cuba has been overdue and is now possible,” he said. “U.S. policy up to now has not worked in U.S. interests, and it has not weakened the Cuban regime.”

Nevada Sen. Harry Reid said he supported Obama despite Cuba’s history, though he added: “I remain concerned about human rights and political freedom inside Cuba, but I support moving forward toward a new path with Cuba.”

]]>
<![CDATA[Santa Photo Failures 2014]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 11:40:42 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*224/Odland+Santa+Fail+7311_MyImage.jpg Remember sitting on Santa's lap while your mom or dad wielded a camera and waited for your big Christmastime grin -- only to see you burst into tears and ruin it all? These user-submitted pictures are the results of those times.

Photo Credit: The Odland Family]]>
<![CDATA[From Cigars to Travel: Key Changes to U.S.-Cuba Relations]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 09:36:01 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/219*120/cuba+flag.jpg

In historic news on Wednesday, the United States and Cuba are to start talks on normalizing relations between the two countries. The congressional embargo remains in place,but President Obama in a noon addressed announced major changes in travel and business policies, saying that increased commerce was good for both Americans and Cubans.

“We should not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens we seek to help," he said.

What will it mean to ordinary Americans and companies wanting to do business in Cuba? Here are some key changes:

Diplomatic relations

Secretary of State John Kerry will begin discussions with Cuba on re-establishing diplomatic relations that broke off in January 1961. In the coming months, the United States will open an embassy in Havana and initiate high-level exchanges between the two governments.

Travel

Tourist travel to Cuba is still banned, but restrictions will be eased in 12 categories: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and some intergovernmental organizations; journalists; professional research and meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations and research and educational institutes; export or import of information; and export transactions that may be considered under existing regulations. Only Congress can lift the ban on tourist travel.

Money

Americans will be able to send $2,000 a quarter to Cuba, up from $500. Donations to humanitarian projects, to support Cubans and for the development of private businesses will not longer require a specific license.

Imports

Travelers to Cuba will be able to bring back Cuban cigars for personal use. Overall, Americans will be allowed $400 worth of goods, $100 for tobacco and alcohol. They will be able to use U.S. credit and debit cards while traveling to Cuba.

Exports

To help build the private sector in Cuba, the sale of commercial goods and services will be eased to include agricultural equipment for small farmers, building materials for private residences, and goods for use by Cuban entrepreneurs. U.S. institutions will be able to open accounts at Cuban financial institutions

Internet Access

Telecommunications providers will be allowed to establish infrastructure in Cuba to provide commercial telecommunications and Internet services. Cuba has one of the lowest Internet penetration rates at 5 percent. Telecommunications services are limited and expensive.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA["Flood of Rocks and Mud" Block Freeway]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:17:33 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/12-17-2014-91-freeway-mudslide.jpg

Large rocks and mud blocked the eastbound lanes on the 91 Freeway after a hillside collapsed early Wednesday in Orange County and trapped vehicles in the debris.

California Highway Patrol reported a “flood of rocks and mud coming down” the hillsides during heavy overnight rains as a storm system moved through the region.

All eastbound lanes were shut down overnight west of Green River Road in the Anaheim Hills area. At least two lanes are expected to remain closed into the afternoon. Transition lanes from the northbound Eastern Transportation Corridor (241) to the eastbound 91 Freeway also were closed.

Vehicles caught in the debris were finally extricated almost two hours after the initial slide, according to the CHP incident log.

Aerial video showed a significant eastbound traffic backup early Wednesday as CHP officers directed drivers off the freeway near Gypsum Canyon Road. At the site of the slide, crews with heavy construction equipment attempted to remove a thick layer of mud that spanned all lanes.

A geologist was expected to visit the site to determine whether the hillside has stabilized. Protective concrete barriers will be placed at the site of the collapse to prevent more debris from flowing onto the road.

No injuries were reported.

The hillside that partially collapsed burned earlier this year in a 40-acre wildfire.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Storm Leaves Behind Mudslide, Power Outages]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 09:27:31 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/12-17-2014-storm-radar-la.jpg

Flash flood advisories for Los Angeles County expired early Wednesday as a fast-moving storm rolled on through the Inland Empire and left behind a freeway mudslide and power outages.

The Colby, Powerhouse and Williams burn areas were under the threat of mud and debris flows, the NWS said, but no problems were reported Tuesday morning. Flood advisories for LA County's burn areas expired at about 5 a.m.

Morning commuters on Wednesday faced another round of rain-slicked streets from an overnight storm that brought rain and hail to parts of Southern California. The storm quickly moved east and produced rainfall amounts that exceeded more than one inch per hour in the San Bernardino area at about 5:30 a.m.

Flash flood watches reamined in effect for parts of the Inland Empire. A flash flood watch means rain heavy enough to cause flooding and unleash debris flows. Recent burn areas are especially susceptible, the NWS said, singling out last year's Mountain Fire burn area.

The eastward-moving storm cells, which could dump up to 2 inches of rail in some areas, were expected to leave the region by noon. Moderate rainfall -- including some embedded in thunderstorms -- will hit Riverside metropolitan areas around 5 to 7 a.m. and spread south and east through the remainder of the region, according to the National Weather Service.

A winter storm warning is in effect for San Bernardino County mountains. The advisory will be in effect until about 8 p.m., and mountain areas above 5,500 feet will likely see the first snow accumulation of the season today. Up to 4 inches of accumulation is possible in Idyllwild and Pine Cove.

Sustained winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour and gusts up to 45 mph are likely in mountain areas.

All eastbound lanes of the 91 Freeway in Corona were blocked because of the mud and rock slide, as were the transition lanes from the northbound Eastern Transportation Corridor (241) to the eastbound 91, the log reported.

Power outages were reported across the region, including one that left about 900 customers in the Hollywood Hills/Studio City area without service early Wednesday after a tree fell on utility lines. The tree blocked a lane of traffic on Laurel Canyon Boulevard near Kirkwood Drive.

In Ventura County, Camarillo Springs residents were forced to leave their homes in the middle of the night when sheriff’s deputies knocked on their doors early Wednesday. The mandatory evacuation orders were lifted around 3:15 a.m., meaning residents were able to return to their homes if not red-tagged or deemed unsafe by authorities.

Another weak storm system scheduled to arrive Thursday might bring light rain during the morning drive.

California has been hit hard by rain and snow over the past week, but the steady downpours have not ended a three-year drought. Up to 7 inches of snow was expected in the Central Sierra -- springtime runoff is critical for the state's water supply.
 



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Residents Riled Over Pot-Smoking Santa Display]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 09:37:16 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/221*120/12-16-14-Pot_Smoking_Santa.JPG

A Southern California medical marijuana dispensary has agreed to remove its holiday decorations after it found itself at the center of a town controversy.

The Harbor House of Dank in San Pedro hired an artist last week to paint Christmas decorations, including a pot-smoking Santa, on its store front.

The paintings also depict a snowman holding a prescription pill bottle.

Hundreds of people expressed their anger about the décor on the "Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Watch" page, a closed Facebook group which had 2,784 members as of Tuesday afternoon.

On Facebook, one man posted "have some damn sense, kids walk by that place all the time." A woman posted "just couldn't understand why?"

"What do you tell your kids about that?" asked Tony Apodaca, who posted the picture of the store front on Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, his post had more than 190 comments.

"I was shocked when I drove by in the morning knowing there's a junior high school a block away," said Apodaca.

The store manager told NBC4 he was not aware that so many people were angry about the paintings. Within a few hours of learning the news, he called the artist who painted the images to have him scrape off the paintings.

By 4 p.m. Tuesday, the paintings had been removed.

But the controversy may have opened up a whole new set of legal issues for the store, which  Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino's office says is illegal because it does not fall under the guidelines of Proposition D.

Los Angeles voters passed the proposition in May, which allows for only 135 dispensaries that registered before a 2007 moratorium took hold, to stay in business.

The Harbor House of Dank opened a few weeks ago, according to the store manager.

The City Attorney's Office is working with LAPD to investigate the legality of hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries within the city of LA, including this one.

As for the paintings, after hearing that the store manager had agreed to remove them, Apodaca commended the store and his fellow members of the Coastal San Pedro Facebook page.

"It's the right  thing to do for the owner to take it down," he said.

]]>
<![CDATA[LA Lakers After 25 Games: Kobe and Byron]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 03:27:56 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-kobe-bryant-byron-scott-25.jpg

The Lakers have played 25 games of a season that is irritatingly difficult to define: Is this the season of Byron Scott taking over the Los Angeles Lakers? Is this the season of Kobe Bryant return? Is it the season of Bryant's decline due to age? Is this a season to "tank?"

At the moment, this season has no identity on or off the court.

Starting with the last question first, the Lakers aren't built to "tank" nearly at the level that would be required to help the team. They need to need to finish with a top-five draft selection in the 2015 NBA draft, or the Phoenix Suns will claim the first round pick as part of the failed Steve Nash trade, as just about everyone should know by now.

[Pause for fans to rant and scream about Nash]

At the moment, the Lakers are tied with the Indiana Pacers for the eighth worst record in the NBA, and the purple and gold appear to be making progress on the court. Even if it's not championship level progress, ownership and management have been boisterous in publicly trashing the thought of "tanking" a season.

With the way the Lakers are trending, the NBA Draft lottery is probably the Lakers' best hope of getting a first round pick in 2015. As every financial adviser will tell you, winning the lottery is no way to plan for the future.

One last point on "tanking," the Lakers have won three of their last four games, so the notion that this team is actively trying to lose is pure fiction. Constantly talking about "tanking" is, frankly, a waste of time with this organization. The Lakers aren't going to do it. They didn't do it last year when Bryant was out for the season, so why would they possibly do it when he is out there standing on the court with smoke pouring out of his nostrils?

Since this will not be a season of "tanking," it is probably better defined as the season of Scott meshing with Bryant. The coach of the Lakers got off to a difficult 1-9 start but has won three of his last four games. Still, he's only won eight of 25 games, and often, the Lakers have often looked atrocious.

Still, Scott's biggest criticism as Lakers coach has been his (over)use of Bryant, whom is an aging superstar coming off nearly a full season on the sidelines.

Dealing with injuries and a hodgepodge roster of largely expendable talent, Scott has been playing his 36-year-old superstar for 35.4 minutes per game with the hopes to simply compete. To this point, however, Scott has not pushed to reduce Bryant's time on the court, and Bryant ranks 15th in minutes per game. He also ranks 16 in total distance run, 56.6 miles. In gross, Bryant is second in the NBA in total time on the court, 885 minutes.

Obviously, Bryant has been complicit--if not overbearingly forceful--in the matter. After all, he is the Lakers' best chance on offense whether he is passing or shooting. Bryant leads the team in points and assists, along with minutes.

As coach, Scott has not simply acted as a idle stooge. After 20 games, the coach took steps to adjust his starting lineup. Scott had hinted changes were on the horizon, and the massacre in Boston left the ex-Lakers player no choice. Since the lineup changes, the Lakers are 3-2. The Lakers' first unit has improved its defense, and the second unit has been packing more of a punch off the bench.

With regards to Bryant, Scott adjusted to give Bryant more time off from practices. Unless the Lakers have a prolonged stretch of three or more days off in between games, Scott began to keep the Lakers' living legend away from scrimmaging or even shooting on off days. Even on game days, Scott often told Bryant to skip the shootarounds. When the game was in Los Angeles, Bryant stayed home. When the game was on the road, Bryant stayed in his room.

Often, Bryant will talk about the "round the clock" or "24-hour" treatment he requires to be ready for games. Practice? No, he's not talking about practice.

In games, however, Bryant has been worked to the bone. Often visibly and vocally fatigued in the locker room after a contest, Bryant has only failed to cross the 30-minute threshold twice in 25 games, which were the first two games of the season. One week into the season, Bryant played 44 out of 48 minutes in a game the Lakers still lost by six to the Phoenix Suns.

At some point between now and the end of Bryant's career, the game minutes will need to be lessened and the load will need to be lightened. Scott should be present when that time comes, and the only question is whether that transition occurs this season or next.

A glimpse into the reduced role for Bryant this season could help the Lakers land a marquee name over the summer. Seeing Bryant playing fewer minutes, performing more efficiently down the stretch and preserving his body offers a far more attractive future than the alternative.

Soon enough, there will be a casting call to fill the lead role on the Lakers. Luckily, this town specializes in filling roles and creating stars.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Camarillo Springs Homes Evacuated Overnight]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 06:19:12 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/evacscam1.PNG

Camarillo Springs residents were forced to leave their homes in the middle of the night when sheriff’s deputies knocked on their doors early Wednesday.

The mandatory evacuation orders were lifted around 3:15 a.m., meaning residents were able to return to their homes if not red-tagged or deemed unsafe by authorities.

Deputies started going door-to-door with evacuation orders for more than 100 homes starting at 12:30 a.m. A mandatory evacuation means the rapidly changing conditions will bring imminent threat to residents’ lives, per Ventura County Emergency.

This comes after at least 16 homes were red-tagged by firefighters, meaning they are unsafe to live in, and 24 damaged when mudflow rushed through a Camarillo Springs neighborhood.

A shelter opened at Leisure Village Recreation Building, 1200 Leisure Village Drive, Camarillo 93012.

Overnight showers were reported across Southern California. By about 5:30 a.m., the heaviest rain moved into the San Bernardino area and continued to quickly move east.

Road closures in effect around SoCal:

Oxnard: Terrace Avenue between Pleasant Valley Road and Berkshire Street

Unincorporated Camarillo: Potrero Road between Cal State Channel Islands (Oxnard Street) and Rancho Dos Vientos

Pacific Coast Highway between Las Posas Road and Yerba Buena

Refresh for updates.

]]>
<![CDATA[Man Stranded for 6 Days on Island]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 19:57:29 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/121614+coast+guard+rescue+bahamas.jpg

An American man who spent six days stranded on an island in the Bahamas was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, officials said Tuesday.

Larry Sutterfield, 39, was on a dinghy that went adrift and landed on an island in Cay Sal Bank, Coast Guard officials said.

A Coast Guard C-130 airplane spotted the man on Monday, waving his arms in distress. The crew of the plane dropped a radio, food and water to Sutterfield.

Sutterfield was picked up by a Coast Guard boat and taken back to Key West with no major injuries.



Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard]]>
<![CDATA[BMW Plows Into SoCal Coffee Shop]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 16:43:17 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/12-16-2014-car+into+coffee+bean+att+2.jpg

The driver of a BMW lost control of the car and slammed through the walls of a Southern California coffee shop and cellphone store Tuesday morning.

The car crashed through a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and AT&T store after striking a light pole near San Fernando Road and Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank, according to the Burbank Police Department.

The driver complained of back pains after the crash, but no one else was injured in the 7 a.m. crash.



Photo Credit: Burbank Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[South LA Fears More Rain After Tornado]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:32:30 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/12-16-14-South+Los+Angeles+LA+Debris+Tornado.JPG

Angelenos reeling from a tornado that struck their South LA neighborhood last week worried Tuesday's looming rainstorm could damage their vulnerable homes.

The small twister ripped rooftops, downed trees and blew out windows the morning of Dec. 12, leaving some residents with plastic covers serving as the roof over their heads.

"(I'm) looking to see, did any water come in, is that plastic going to hold up and keep the water out?" one South LA resident said. "That is kind of a fearful thing to think about when it starts raining again, and how hard it's going to rain."

Piles of wood panels covered the ground near the buildings, between South Vermont and West Gage avenues and 57th and Figueroa streets.

"I just hope (the rain) doesn't get as heavy this time," another neighbor said.

The second of two storms passing through Southern California on Tuesday evening may produce heavy rainfall in some areas and isolated thunderstorms, according to the National Weather Service.

Building inspectors found some open areas or "holes" inside the damaged units but told NBC4 they did not expect to fix them within the next 24 hours.

Cellphone video of last week's tornado showed winds bending over palm trees before a surge of debris went flying into the air.

Witnesses said they thought they were in an earthquake and took cover when their walls started shaking.

"All of the sudden I heard something rumbling, and one of my neighbors was here and she said, 'The trash can is flying, we're having a tornado,'" Marleen Benefield said last week. "I said, 'No, not in Cali, we don't do that!"



Photo Credit: Joel Cooke]]>
<![CDATA[Odd Google Searches That Trended in 2014]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:08:51 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/453920462.jpg

Google has released its 2014 list of its most common search requests. Many popular searches weren't surprising, like The World Cup, Robin Williams, and Disney's “Frozen.”

However, the search engine also revealed other searches that were also, somehow, popular this past year. People of the web turned to Google for odd info about dogs, beauty, diets, memes, fashion and famous selfies.

Take a look at searches that also trended in 2014: 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Woman Gunned Down Hours After Getting Protection Order Against Police Officer ]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 05:59:21 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/STEPHEN+ROZNIAKOWSKI.JPG

“If you find me dead, he did it.”

That’s what Valerie Morrow told NBC10 Investigative reporter Harry Hairston just hours before she died, allegedly at the hand of the Delaware County police officer she feared.

Stephen Rozniakowski, an officer with the Colwyn Borough Police Department, wore a bulletproof vest when he kicked down the door of Morrow’s home on Glenfield Avenue in Glenolden, Pennsylvania around 9 p.m. Monday and began firing, according to investigators. The shooting came just three hours after police served Rozniakowski with an court order to stay away from Morrow, and days before he was due in court in a separate stalking case.

“He went there to execute the entire family, in my opinion. I have no doubt about that,” said Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan.

He shot and killed Morrow then shot Morrow’s teenage daughter in the arm before Morrow's husband Thomas Morrow, an off-duty Morton officer, returned fire.

After the shooting, Rozniakowski called in the shooting on his police-issued radio.

“I am the actor,” the 32-year-old told dispatchers.

Earlier in the day, Morrow reached out to Hairston because he previously covered past stalking allegations against Rozniakowski.

Morrow told Hairston she dated Rozniakowski for months before ending the relationship in August to reunite with her husband. In the weeks and months that followed, she said Rozniakowski called and texted her repeatedly with threatening messages. She agreed to come in for a Tuesday interview. but it never happened after she was killed in her own home.

At the time of the shooting, Philly police were working on an arrest warrant for Rozniakowski after he allegedly keyed Morrow’s car while parked at a Center City garage.

Before the fatal shooting, Rozniakowski called the Colwyn Borough Police Department to announce his resignation, investigators said.

About three hours before the shooting, Norwood Police served the suspect with an emergency court order to stay away from Morrow. At the time they took away his service weapon and asked if he had any other weapons but Whelan said Rozniakowski told them he didn’t.

He used a private weapon in Monday’s attack, said police.

Rozniakowski was taken to Crozer-Chester Medical Center where he remained in critical but stable condition Tuesday night, according to officials.

Whelan said he will consider pushing for the death penalty when Rozniakowski is tried.

Hairston put a spotlight on Rozniakowski earlier this year when the officer was placed on "administrative leave" after his former fiancee filed a protection from abuse order against him.

Plymouth Township Police arrested Rozniakowski and charged him with 25 counts of stalking and 50 counts of harassment for allegedly contacting his former fiancee with repeated phone and text messages.

"As a police officer, he knows the bounds and what the boundaries are and what the laws are," said Marty Mullaney, an attorney for Rozniakowski, told NBC10 in April. "I think his emotions got the best of him."

At that time, Rozniakowski had his police-issued gun taken away, Hills said.

The suspect was scheduled to appear in court Thursday on those charges.

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