Eighteen months after Whitney Houston was found dead in her Beverly Hilton hotel room, some seriously unpleasant accusations are swirling against one of the police officers who responded to the scene back in February of 2012.
As you likely remember, Houston was discovered in a bathtub in her room. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office eventually determined she died of accidental drowning, with heart disease and cocaine use listed as contributing factors.
Last week, a former Beverly Hills SWAT sergeant filed a labor dispute claim alleging that at the scene of Houston's death, one of his fellow cops lifted a sheet in order to ogle Houston's naked corpse. Worse, the officer reportedly also made "inappropriate" comments about the state of Houston's body.
Ex-SWAT officer Brian Weir has filed a claim for damages against the police department and the city, saying he was retaliated against after he reported the misconduct of his fellow officer. According to the claim, Weir witnessed a police detective lift the sheet covering Houston's body ("for no legitimate law enforcement inquiry, investigative, or other proper and legal purpose") and say, "Damn, she's still looking good, huh?"
Weir alleges that the sergeant "acted with reckless disregard for the integrity of the potential crime scene" and should have known his behavior "would outrage ordinary family sensibilities."
He goes on to claim that the Beverly Hills police chief and others retaliated against him when he complained about the incident, saying he was pulled from his "coveted positions" of sergeant with the SWAT and K-9 units, denied promotion to other positions, removed from supervisory duties, denied special pay, denied training, harassed and ostracized, given inappropriate and harassing comments an/or documents, and subjected to conduct undermining his authority as a superior.
Beverly Hills Police spokesman Lt. Lincoln Hoshino says that no formal complaint was ever filed by Weir or anyone else:
We will be looking into the allegations made in this claim, but we were not aware of any inappropriate behavior or comments made by any officer at the scene. (…) How can we retaliate against him for reporting misconduct if we weren't aware of any misconduct?
There's no way for us to know what really happened at Houston's death scene, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit to learn that an officer truly did cross the line as described. I'm sure this sort of thing happens all the time among unprofessional first responders, and Houston's celebrity status may have made it more tempting to behave in a crass and immature manner.
Of course, it's also possible that the accusing ex-SWAT officer has an axe to grind against the department and made the whole thing up. For Houston's family's sake, I hope this claim can be dealt with as quickly as possible. I can't imagine how painful it must be for her loved ones to hear that someone may have been this disrespectful to her body -- but then again, it's possible they already knew. TMZ reports that the day of her death, Ray J overheard the officer's comment followed by loud laughter, and ended up restrained after he tried to forcefully gain entry to her room.
What's your gut feeling on this accusation -- do you think an officer really did sneak a pervy look at Whitney Houston's body?
Image via asterix611/Flickr