LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nearly half of all killings in Los Angeles County went unsolved over the past eleven years, a newspaper reported Sunday.
Only 54 percent of homicides were solved countywide from January 2000 through the end of 2010, compared with a national average of 63 percent, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. An analysis of law enforcement data found that of the 11,244 homicides recorded by the county medical examiner, 4,862 homicides, or 46 percent, remained unsolved.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell says that rate is not satisfactory.
“In the real world, these are people’s lives and their memories and how they view the system,” McDonnell said. “You can never bring the person back, but at least there is some level of justice when people are held accountable; it adds to the credibility of the system.”
Of the unsolved cases, 90 percent of victims were male and nearly all died from gunshots.
By race, data show homicides are more likely to go unsolved for blacks.
“This is eye-popping data when you look at it in detail,” said Jody Armour, a law professor at the University of Southern California.
“It’s a window on race and class and crime in L.A. and therefore in much of America.”
The analysis showed that half of all unsolved homicides involved Hispanic victims. Killings of Hispanic men aged 19 to 35 were unsolved at double the rate of the typical homicide victim.
Luis Arturo Palomera, 25, who was gunned down outside his parent’s Baldwin Park house after a dispute five years ago is just one example of the unsolved killings.
His mother said the gunman may have fled to Mexico.
“If they know who did it and they know he’s in Mexico, then what does it take to do something about it?” Armida Palomera said. “I don’t want something to happen 20 years from now — when I’m dead.”
Some families are resigned to the cases never being solved, said Jane Bouffard, president of Justice for Homicide Victims Foundation.
“The families kind of feel like the police just, say, ‘Oh well,’” Bouffard said. “I hate to say that because there are homicide detectives that are very, very caring and very diligent and want to solve each of them, but they have a big caseload and when they get called to a scene a lot of times they don’t have a lot of evidence because in those communities, people don’t come forward, so they don’t have anything to use to solve it with.”
Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to live in high-crime neighborhoods where gangs proliferate and witnesses are reluctant to speak out, experts said.
Of the 11 percent of white homicides, only 6 percent were unsolved. Of the 3.5 percent of Asian homicides, 3 percent were unsolved.