Monday, March 09, 2009

The Murder of Hugues de la Plaza

On June 2, 2007, Hugues de la Plaza was stabbed outside his Hayes Valley apartment around 2 A.M. and he collapsed and died inside his apartment soon afterwards. The homicide detail at the San Francisco Police Department, with their usual investigative zeal, decided that the crime was probably a suicide and proceeded to act accordingly. (For a good article on the disastrous non-investigation, click here for Sarah Phelan's article at the "Bay Guardian" Politics Blog.)

Hugues' parents in France have done everything in their power to have the crime investigated by the SFPD but they ran into a stone wall. According to a blog site set up to remember their son (click here), they were holding a press conference in front of San Francisco City Hall February 26th "asking for answers and accountability for the SFPD's lackluster investigation into Hugues' murder. The French police, who in a historic move sanctioned by the US Department of Justice, took over the investigation from the SFPD in June 2008, have officially ruled Hugues' death 100% HOMICIDE."

The response from the San Francisco Police Department was a peevish denial that their investigation was "lackluster," and I'm inclined to agree with them. "Lackluster" is a word used for essays cribbed from an encyclopedia or a theatrical production that isn't very exciting. This investigation is probably better described as "lazy and criminally incompetent."

The de la Plazas are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the murderer but at this point, eighteen months after the crime, the trail is cold.

One of the main reasons this story hasn't died is on account of Hugues' ex-lover, Melissa Nix, who is a journalist herself and knows how to work the media. (The photo above is of Veronique Bacherre, who was translating for Francois de la Plaza.) Melissa has made sure that there have been stories about the botched investigation in most of the San Francisco newspapers and television stations, along with accounts in People magazine, the Associated Press, French newspapers and television, and a major story last week in "The New York Times" (click here.)

In other words, the San Francisco Police Department is now officially an international disgrace. For those murdered in San Francisco who don't fit a certain demographic, the police department has made it abundantly clear that they could care less about investigating. Ask Paulette Brown, mother of the teenaged Aubrey who was murdered at his front door in 2006. Ms. Brown has decided the only way she's going to find justice is by holding a daily vigil under Mayor Gavin Newsom's office at City Hall until something is done. I wish both sets of parents the best of luck going forward.


tangobaby said...

This so incredibly sad for the victim's family and loved ones, and so embarrassing for our city. I hope this outrage continues so that something, finally, will improve.

I remember this story when it happened. I am glad the family is not giving up. Thank you for reminding us.

Nancy Ewart said...

What an incompetent bunch of bozoos! A friend of mine lives in North Beach and every time I go to visit her, I pass by the police station where the good old boys are sitting around, drinking their coffee without a care in the world. Heaven forbid that they actually do some police work. When I attend neighborhood meetings and anybody brings up crime in the 'hood, the designated police rep. gets all huffy and defensive and holier than thou! Some times I think we should bring back vigilante justice - except that too many of the wrong people would be killed.