Members of an LAPD bomb squad who detonated a cache of illegal fireworks in South Los Angeles last year, causing an explosion that displaced several residents from their homes, ignored the warnings of an expert team member who said the cache should be broken into smaller portions, according to a report set to be discussed by the city’s police commission this week.
The expert told the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — which investigated the blast and concurred the cache exceeded safety limits — that the volume and weight of fireworks being placed into the department’s “total containment vessel” was too powerful for the vessel to control, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
“Based on my experience and everything, I said, `Uh, this is too much to do one shot, we’re gonna break them up, right?”’ the technician reported saying to a colleague. The expert — who was not named — said his warnings were dismissed by both his colleagues and his supervisor. “They basically told me that they had already done the calculations, that they were well under the net explosive weight that the TCV could handle,” he told investigators, according to The Times, which cited a report by Inspector General Mark Smith.
The report will be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission. Officer Drake Madison, spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, told City News Service on Saturday the department had no comment on the report at this time. The inspector general’s report also faulted the LAPD for a “lack of supervision,” and said “a failure to utilize best practices at the scene of Bomb Squad calls had become somewhat of an accepted practice.”
The June 30 detonation on East 27th Street, near San Pedro Street, sent 17 residents and first responders to hospitals, destroyed a bomb squad truck and damaged 22 residences, 13 businesses and 37 vehicles. The Los Angeles City Council passed legislation on Sept. 21 to identify $5 million — in part from the LAPD’s budget — to assist recovering residents.