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New information in the investigation of the Ronni Chasen killing is focusing attention on the bullets used in the attack and the lack of footage from traffic cameras at the location of the early-morning Nov. 16 incident.
Media reports Monday said that traffic cameras were disabled at the Sunset Boulevard and Whittier Drive intersection where Chasen was gunned down in her car. But Beverly Hills Police Department Lt. Tony Lee tells The Hollywood Reporter that there in fact are no cameras at the intersection.
Lee says red-light cameras, which record video, were removed from the intersection “several years” ago after their use significantly lowered the number of infractions there.
“It wasn’t worth having it operational there anymore,” says Lee, who declined further comment on the investigation, now in its second week. Camera footage from other locations, including neighbors’ residences and businesses along Sunset, has been sought.
No suspects have been named, and police have not revealed a motive in the shooting, though THR has previously reported that the department’s working theory centers on the attack being planned. It remains unclear whether Chasen was personally targeted in the shooting.
Though it was expected that the Los Angeles County coroner’s office would release its full autopsy report this week, assistant chief coroner Ed Winter said that the BHPD has put a “security hold” on the case, keeping the report from being released, at least in the near-term.
But a three-page preliminary coroner’s report obtained by Fox 11 News details some of the particulars of the incident. According to the station’s Nov. 24 newscast, the coroner’s office report indicates a “9mm hollow-point” bullet was recovered from Chasen’s back at Cedars-Sinai hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 1:12 a.m. Nov 16. Such ammunition is more powerful than conventional rounds, according to criminal experts.
“When they hit a (person), they scoop out skin and tissue and make a much bigger hole,” says Robert Wittman, a former senior investigator for the FBI. “They are outlawed for use in war.”
Mark Fuhrman, the former Los Angeles Police Department detective who investigated the Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman murders, says the sole purpose of using 9mm hollow-point ammunition is to “inflict as much damage as possible in a human.”
“9mm guns are not used in any hunting, which means that any bullet designed (for such a gun) is made to stop or kill humans,” says Fuhrman, now an author.
Winter says the three-page document “should not have been released.” Lee adds that detectives on the case have no comment on the release of the full autopsy report.
The coroner’s preliminary report indicates that Chasen, 64, suffered multiple gunshot wounds, including three to her “right breast/chest area,” according to the Fox newscast. The report notes up to four other gunshot wounds, though it is unclear which are exit or entry points for the bullets.
It also indicates that an unknown vehicle pulled up next to Chasen’s Mercedes-Benz while she was stopped at a red light and fired shots at the publicist through her passenger-side window. She then made a left turn from Sunset onto Whitter and drove about a quarter mile before hitting a light pole. Police received information at 12:28 a.m. Nov. 16 regarding shots heard in the area.
Chasen was attacked after leaving an after-party in Hollywood for the Burlesque premiere.
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