LAPD Fireworks Explosion Update: Black Man Dies After Wife Displaced
Families of two men from a South Los Angeles neighborhood blame the reckless actions of the LAPD for their deaths. A local ABC affiliate reported that Auzie Houchins and Ramon Reyes died after the LAPD detonated a large quantity of explosive materials in the neighborhoods.
While the two men did not die in the blast itself, family and community accounts suggest the blast’s aftermath combined with being displaced from their homes exacerbated both men’s health. Reyes had possibly been injured during the blast when his roof collapsed on him.
Houchins had diabetes, and heart attack was listed among the causes of death. His stepdaughter suggested that the blast and its aftermath strained his health, including being removed from his childhood home and into a hotel without even a kitchen.
“I can’t say that the blast contributed to his death,” Marie Staples told KTLA. “But I can certainly say that since he was uprooted from the blast and then went over there, he just was not the same. He was born in that house.”
Staples mother Lorna Hairston had been with Houchins for 20 years. Earlier this week she launched a gofundme to raise money for permanent housing and related expenses.
On June 30, Members of LAPD’s bomb squad attempted to detonate a cache of illegal fireworks but miscalculated the overall weight of the explosives. The explosives exceeded nearly twice the capacity of the containment truck leading to massive damage.
Even in a containment truck, detonating explosives in the middle of a residential community does not seem like the smartest idea. The lack of care in detonating over 40 pounds of explosives in a working-class community of color is frustrating but not surprising.
Officers attempted to evacuate the community but missed people who did not answer the door. They also never communicated with the local city council office to notify them of the proposed detonation. Over two dozen still have not been able to return to their homes.
“All we want is them to fix our house. We want to come back home,” 15-year-old Madeline Heredia told KABC. “We want to be having our own privacy. We want to have our own place to be ourselves.”
More than 80 residents are still displaced from their homes. And while the LAPD Chief Michael Moore said he did not think the explosion impacted the recent deaths, the LAist reported he expressed “concern.”
City Council Member Curren Price, who represents the affected area, has called on the city and LAPD to reimburse his district for a $1 million fund set up to support those impacted by the explosion. Price recently tweeted that Neighborhood Legal Services will hold a free legal clinic to help impacted families file claims.
According to the LAist, Price wants LAPD to reimburse him as the funds came from the district’s reimaging public safety dollars earmarked. In a statement, Price encouraged affected community members to make use of the available funds. He said it would not impact any potential legal claims against the city.
“What these victims have had to endure is reprehensible and unconscionable, and I repeat, it should have never happened in the first place,” said Price. “As our office received word of the recent loss of two patriarchs that lived on 27th Street, it struck my staff and I especially hard as Team Price has gotten to know them intimately. Our deepest condolences to them, and we will continue to be there in their time of great need.”