LAPD Detective Under Scrutiny For Tweeting Bloody Crime Scene Photo

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — On Twitter, Sal LaBarbera is a popular LA detective known as LA Murder Cop. But a tweet he recently sent to his 3,265 followers —  showing a bloody crime scene — has some questioning if it’s appropriate to show something so graphic on social media.

LaBarbera is an LAPD Detective Supervisor out of the South Bureau Division. He’s been working the criminal gang homicide division for 26 years.

He joined Twitter one year ago. He often tweets about his passions: food and sports. But until now, no one has cared much about his love of baseball or pasta. LaBarbera also often tweets about the crime scenes he’s called to. And the passion for his job is now giving him a lot of attention all over the net.

The photo he tweeted — showing the bloody body of a murdered male covered by a sheet — went viral. One blogger, in particular, took issue with the tweet becoming popular and his blog about it also went viral.

That blogger — Erick Huerta, a 27-year-old Boyle Heights resident — writes about his neighborhood, restaurants, things of that nature. He’s all for reality, but thought the pic crossed a line. “When officers start doing this, it is like becoming numb and lax. I understand it’s not an easy job, but [they] have to keep up professionalism.”

LaBarbera would not talk on camera with KCAL9’s Suraya Fadel, but he did tell her by phone that he’s always tweeted about similar crime scenes to raise awareness about gang violence in the South LA community he serves.

He says the bloody crime scene photo was “work related.” He does not believe he did anything wrong and he has no regrets in tweeting the photo.

LAPD would not comment about the photo to Fadel. They did tell her there is an internal investigation underway and there is no department policy set pertaining to employees using social media.

In hindsight, the detective told Fadel he might have one regret. He said, he hoped the message he has been trying to get out regarding gang violence would not be lost in the controversy of a single photo.

  • LAPD Detective Under Scrutiny For Tweeting Bloody Crime Scene Photo | Los Angeles for Me

    […] On Twitter, Sal LaBarbera is a popular LA detective known as LA Murder Cop. But a tweet he recently sent to his 3,265 followers — showing a bloody crime scene — has some questioning if it’s appropriate to show something so graphic on social media. More from:… […]

  • Your Mom


    • Fitzy

      Bob – go die in an explosion, and ill take a few pics of your flesh and post them to facebook.

    • Mehilangelino

      Agreed fully.

    • Homer900

      Bob, I’m a retired cop. What he did was salacious, unprofessional and he should be disciplined for it.

    • Show it all

      You are so wrong.

      • java man

        show them all, , the most conservative individual started out as a liberal who became a victim…

    • Larz Blackman

      As if we’re not aware of the horror of gangs. Everything these days is an excuse for “awareness.”

    • teaisstronger

      The problem with America is that there are too dam many Americans.

    • commentormike

      If the scene was form inside a private home, then that’s different, but clearly the scene is on a public street. Bad taste? Sure. Illegal? No.

    • Edward

      I don’t see how this is unprofessional. That’s a term that is being thrown around by both the blogger (in the article) and Homer, but the breach of ethics or professionalism isn’t clear to me.

      And for what it’s worth, I don’t think anyone should use the moniker “Your Mom”

    • Tom

      Homer, the first 48 shows the dead bodies in streets all the time. Whats the difference?

    • Peter G

      And why should he be fired. The photo is a typical photo that would run in the papers! He’s illustrating when will the murders end. Give us a sound reason than just being fired! Now if it was a pic of the uncovered body, that’s a different story.

    • Andrew P.

      How would this save lives? A person considering whether or not to join a gang will not be swayed by a photo of a body.

    • Donnie

      I disagree … What’s the difference between his photo and a show like the First 48 ???

  • Andy

    Here comes the Special Order about using social networks. It only takes one incident. Im surprised a guy with so much T.O.J. would allow himself to be in the spotlight like this.

  • Susan

    Quit being so sensitive, Big deal, so he showed a crime seen photo. So what. We’ve all seen death before. Death is a part of life so don’t run from it.

  • jazz

    I don’t understand. The body was covered. Why is it that the media can show a crime scene but the police can’t.

    I have watched the news and several times they made a statement “what you are about to see is very graphic” then they show the photo and believe me the body is not covered.

    • Lee Barnum

      Well thanks God politics isn’t a beauty contest, but your comments are pretty damn ugly too.

  • jazz

    I agree.

    • jack farrell

      just saw a photo of hillary clinton,,now there should be a law about showing that on social negtworking,,actually a warning before they show any photos of dem o rat women,,they are all so butt ugly and angry,,

  • Ed

    I’m sorry but I still can’t see why the picture is considered so graphic. It would have been a different story if the body were uncovered. Huerta is a follower of this detective on Twitter and I’m sure it’s because of his police work. To me, the picture is a a very brief glimpse into his world. Stop looking for your few minutes of fame and instead realize how dangerous certain parts of our city are. Keep up the good intentions Det. LaBarbera, we all need to see the best and unfortunately the worst of our great city

    • Truth seeker

      Sorry Ed, I’m a homicide detective as well, and we are instructed from the get go not to photograph a crime scene. That is confidential we don’t allow the media close to the body and yet this guy tweets it. It’s about integrity and doing the right thing. Preserving evidence conducting the most ethical investigation you can. This guy is is obviously full of himself hence his name LA Murder detective.

      • please don't lie

        Why wouldn’t you photograph a crime scene? In what way is a crime committed in public view and reported in crime statistics confidential? How do you keep the media from photographing/video taping a crime scene in plain view? All of that to say is YOU ARE NOT A HOMICIDE DETECTIVE.

        “LA Murder Detective” is a screen name of sorts. I imagine it is intended to get followers on his twitter page. How is that being full of one’s self?

  • Maui Pete

    The cop did nothing wrong. Perhaps if we showed more of these photos on the news we would realize that gang violence is not just a bi-line in the news. He gets 100% support from me.

  • tickleclaw

    I agree. all official activity should be biased toward disclosure.

  • Bill Clay

    As a LEO with 30 years experience, I can tell you that absolutely no agency would allow this type of unprofessional behavior. LAPD probably has no social media policy, because up to this point no employee has been foolish enough to pull a stunt like this. It’s even more troubling that the detective who showed such a lack of judgement is a unit supervisor.

    • Bill Clay

      Uneducated replies from clueless civilians whose knowledge of police work comes from watching CSI reruns. Let’s hope this self-aggrandizing detective doesn’t tweet a picture of your dead mother next time.

  • Ben

    It is called Suvivors right to privacy!!! The technicallity here is if the photograph was taken in a public place or at a private residence.

    • Bill Clay

      There really is no technicality, it doesn’t matter where the photo was taken. No investigator is supposed to be playing with social media at crime scenes, especially at homicides.

      • Bob

        Yada, yada, yada. Get laid you uptight hardass.

      • Lobo

        Really Bill Clay? How many homicide scene have you been at or investigated? I think the term LEO is just a cover for his real job as a baliff for traffic court. SHUT YOUR PIE HOLE

  • Johnny Two Toes

    I just googled “LA Murder Cop” in image search. First pic is the one he tweeted. It shows a white sheet with a little red on it. It’s nothing more than you see on CSI every evening. Big deal, get over it and move on.

    • Andrew P.

      Well YOU might see it on CSI every morning. The rest of us are on our way to work.

  • JustAGuy

    Good grief, it was a moment of poor judgement, but there is NO cause for people to be all worked up. You should be more concerned about the high unemployment and the actual crime rate than this. Sheesh!

  • Montford John Greenwood

    So what? Let Americans see what reality looks like.

  • Steve Williams

    “LaBarbera is an LAPD Detective Supervisor out of the South Bureau Division. He’s been working the criminal gang homicide division for 26 years.”

    And obviously someone who should have known better….I’ve been an officer for nearly 20 years, though nothing as big time as LA. You just don’t do this kind of thing. I also don’t think he should be fired, you don’t throw away that kind of skill, training and experience. Perhaps reassignment.

    • Bill Clay

      “I also don’t think he should be fired, you don’t throw away that kind of skill, training and experience.”

      Exactly. His lack of judgment in using crime scenes to make himself an internet celebrity doesn’t rise to the level of a termination offense. A counseling letter in his personnel jacket should be a sufficient reminder to concentrate on doing his job, not on being a social media icon.

  • Me

    Cops and other first responders who do this should be fired and lose their pensions.

    • M

      …and what about news reporters and civilian photographers? Should they be fired and have their pension/retirement/SS taken away? If one person can’t do it- then no one should be able to.

  • Sal LaBarbera — LAPD Detective Under Scrutiny For Tweeting Bloody Crime Scene Photo « CBS Los Angeles « The Leslie Brodie Report

    […] CBS Los Angeles Posted by Leslie Brodie ⋅ 2011/10/17 ⋅ Leave a Comment via Share this:StumbleUponEmailLinkedInPrintDiggFacebookRedditTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to […]

  • Silly Me

    BIG DEAL !! He did NOTHING WRONG !! Many of you who are saying he should get fired…Well, I hope you have a job and get fired !! HA !! Some people just can’t live or let live…..

  • TRE

    He tweeted the reality and consequence of gang violence.

    People do have a choice on whether or not they wish to pull up a photo from Twitter based on the context of the tweet. It was clear he wasn’t sharing a photo of a creme brulee. It’s stupid people who can’t take responsibility for themselves that whine about this type of stuff. Get over it; or more importantly, do something to end gang violence.

  • Beavis

    I take it nobody watches The first 48, Cops or any of the other reality police shows on public television. They show worse matter than a sheet with blood on it. This era of do-gooders is what ‘s ruining this country. The photo does not show the victims face or even what race he/she is. This is the problem with society, they don’t believe this kind of thing (murder) occurs. They think it only happens on the TV shows they watch.

  • Anonymous

    If it were an officer in patrol we would have been severely repriminded. We were told in roll calls not to take pictures of any crime scene because a CHP incident where an officer did in fact do this and the courts found their agency liable civilly.

  • Ireland 1916

    He should be disciplined. This is no different than the idiots who were busted uploading shocking autopsy photos, or others making prank photos with bodies in mortuaries. If that was your sister, or Dad who was murdered would you want everyone pouring over the bloody photos? But I’m not surprises by this because of the media indoctrination making people indifferent to the suffering and misfortune of others. Sick times we live in.


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  • Andrew P.

    This guy, Hank Warren, trolls every article. I think he finds them off Drudge (because I link off Drudge too, and Hank’s everywhere). It’s always “[Headline of current article or topic statement], yet another violation of our rights…”

    The man has no life.

  • Truth seeker

    He should be disciplined. This idiot is full of hmself “LA Murder Cop” please. He has absolutely no integrity. I’m a homicide detective as well and when you arrive at a crime scene, you protect it, and it’s confidential. We don’t allow the media to get close and this idiot is posting it on twitter. Sorry pal, but I would order this clown to a board of rights or put him on the detective desk to answer the phone.

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