Los Angeles Police Department homicide investigators arrived in San Francisco this week at the behest of the city’s new police chief to review the 2007 stabbing death of a French national.
San Francisco homicide investigators initially suggested to the family that the death of Hugues de la Plaza could have been suicide.
De la Plaza, 36, was found dead inside his Hayes Valley apartment in the 400 block of Linden Street on June 2, 2007. He had suffered multiple stab wounds, which his family and friends said were inconsistent with self-inflicted injuries.
De la Plaza’s parents, who live in France, and his former girlfriend Melissa Nix have repeatedly pressed San Francisco police for resolution to the case, which the medical examiner has deemed an undetermined death.
San Francisco police said earlier this year that they treat all undetermined deaths as if they were homicides. However, they have not officially called the case a homicide, saying the medical examiner has to make that determination.
De la Plaza’s father has called the idea that his son committed suicide “ridiculous.”
New Police Chief George Gascon, a former assistant chief for the Los Angeles Police Department, recently asked two Los Angeles homicide investigators to review the case.
Police spokeswoman Sgt. Lyn Tomioka said the investigators will look at both the San Francisco Police Department’s file on the case and a recent report by French investigators, who conducted their own investigation last year.
De la Plaza’s parents met with the French investigators and said the report confirms their son’s death was a homicide because of the nature of the knife wounds and the fact that the knife was never found.
The Los Angeles investigators will try to “determine if there was anything that was not done, that should have been done,” Tomioka said.
“They came in with an unbiased view of both sides, and that’s what the chief asked them to do,” she said.
“The chief will be making a statement on the findings, at a later date,” Tomioka said.
Nix responded today to the investigators’ arrival.
“I hope it’s just not a PR ploy to placate critics,” she said. “It needs to go much deeper than that.”
An investigation by the city’s Office of Citizen Complaints this year found “policy failure” had occurred in the San Francisco police investigation.
Nix alleges that the investigation was negligent from the beginning and constituted more than policy failure.
She said the OCC has recently agreed to reopen its investigation, citing new information.
De la Plaza’s parents will visit San Francisco at the end of the month and hope to meet with Gascon “to look into what’s been done in their son’s case,” Nix said.