Pasadena Police Officer’s Death Cause for Speculation

    The death of retired Pasadena Police Lt. David Richter has highlighted the need for responsible journalism in a time when tabloid reporting and the sentiments of bloggers are confused with news.

    Richter’s abandoned car was found
by a water-filled pit in Irwindale last January. Police assumed the
retired lieutenant had either taken his own life or simply walked
away from his financial troubles.

    The later discovery of
Richter’s corpse and a firearm under a nearby overpass seems to corroborate the theory that Richter took his own life. But then there’s the
conspiracy theorists, and admittedly the case possesses all the
potential of a Law and Order episode.

    Thursday, I read an
article by Andre Coleman of the Pasadena
Weekly
. Buried on page 13, the article uses an unnamed source and
anonymous letter to create speculation amongst readers. After a short
recap of the facts, Coleman delves into a lengthy digress about an
anonymous letter sent to members of the Pasadena City Council.  The letter
alleges everything from police malfeasance to racism.

    Coleman’s
sublimation of this anonymous letter leads to another anonymous
source:

According to an earlier
conversation with one coroner’s office employee who did not wish to
be named, among the factors that may have led authorities to reopen
the case
(the case was
never closed)
was that a gun found near Richter’s body
appeared to have been fired four times, and one bullet remained in
the weapon.”

    Keeping in mind that they are a tabloid, I find it alarming
that the Pasadena Weekly published this story. Had someone in the coroner’s office made the statement, a statement that Los Angeles County Coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter doubts the legitimacy of, I would have written it off as conjecture, rather
than present it as news. How would someone in the coroner’s office
know this information? According to Winter, homicide detectives would
have taken the weapon and run ballistics on it, not the coroners
office. While the article spends ample time on anonymous sources, it
fails to mention Richter’s financial possible motives for Richter to commit suicide.

    Prior to writing my
article on Richter, I searched for reliable information,
unfortunately reliable sources of information weren’t permitted to
comment.

    Friday I spoke with
a psychic who claims the spirit of David Richter awakens her every
morning seeking justice for his murder.

    Monday morning I
listened to a voice-mail from an anonymous caller who presented
himself as law enforcement by using the word “we” often in
his rant. I listened to the message several times in an ill-fated
attempt to extract meaningful insight.

“You’ll never find out what
happened, because that’s what happens to us good cops when we make
promises we can’t keep.”

What promises? Promises to financial
institutions involving adjustable rate mortgages?

    After racking my
brain for three days I had an epiphany: there probably isn’t any
credible information indicating Richter’s death was anything but a
suicide.

    Let’s face it,
Richter was a retired cop and retired cops kill themselves. By the
age of 55 Richter had spent his entire adult life in law enforcement, and didn’t have a spouse or children.

    Police who survive
years of service, only to take their own lives after retirement is not a new concept. My own grandfather retired after 30 years as a
Philadelphia homicide detective, and spent the next ten years
drinking himself to death.

    Sure, it’s possible that
Richter caught a bullet during an old-west-style shootout
with a crooked cop. However, it’s far more likely that
Richter was lamenting his career, his impending financial doom, and a Christmas without not only kin but comrade, last holiday season when he died.

    Regardless of what
happened to Richter, it’s important that journalists remember their
role: to report the news not create it. That’s why I take it as a
compliment when bloggers like Aaron Proctor recognize me with a “ham
and egger” award for “stealing” a story. So long as
the Associated Press continues to recognize the difference between
news coverage and misleading narratives, there just might be hope
for the media and the role it should play in our society.

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  • http://www.proctorformayor.com AP

    1. Who the fuck are you to come on The Proc’s show and disrespect The Proc? Duncan Hines..Gregory Hines…Heinz 57…what’s your name again?

    2. It’s spelled COUNCIL, not Counsel. Did you learn your journalism skills at DeVry?

    3. Last time I checked, the PW is an alternative weekly, not a tabloid.

    4. I didn’t award you any Ham & Eggs – but you are a front-running candidate for douchebag of the year.

    - AP

  • A Member of David’s Family

    Thank you Thomas Hines for this article that injects some reality into the recently published stories about David. As a member of David’s immediate family, who all live in Southern California despite some reports he has no family in California, I find it very disturbing to see so many errors in most of these stories. And although it is a blessing not to be harassed, I feel that the “news media” has been very irresponsible, has not done much research, and hasn’t contacted the family to verify facts before publishing. For example, one “fact” that has been published in several articles is the David was never married which is not true. So, again, thank you for pointing out that a person shouldn’t believe everything that is printed.

  • MRA

    Hey, Mr. Responsible Journalist,

    If you’re so upset about the PW coverage being irresponsible conjecture, why did you repeat it all here? And then, just to add to the irresponsibility, you include and quote your message from an anonymous caller.

    And then, you add this: “However, it’s far more likely that Richter was lamenting his career, his impending financial doom, and a Christmas without not only kin but comrade, last holiday season when he died.” Isn’t that just total speculation and conjecture on your part? How do you know what he was “lamenting,” if anything?

    And why is this man’s death “cause for speculation”? What is it about this incident that makes it fodder for public discussion and debate?

    Yes, your role is to report the news, not create it. Maybe you should go back and read that sentence again. And then try to figure out what “news” is.

  • MRA Sr.

    MR. Anonymous Jr.,

    I realize you’re upset that he cut on your letter. But why don’t you put a name behind your words?

  • http://www.pasadenanewprogressive.blogspot.com Virginia

    I have found the Pasadena Weekly, on many occasions, prints inaccuracies (without retraction). I have been writing about it, asking for something to be done about it, so far to no avail.

    It is very important for Pasadena’s papers to be honest. This paper has not been doing that, for some time now.

    I am very sorry for Officer Richter’s family to have been victimized by this. I hope that this article reaches the community and causes change.

  • Anonymous

    I think you all miss the point. I worked for Lt. Dave Richter for many years. He was a good cop, an honest man and did his job with enthusiasm and dedication to the citizens of Pasdena. As a young officer I could always go to Lt. Richter for guidance and support. Let us remember how he lived and leave the crime solving to the professionals.