LAPD apologizes to family of slain Sen. Robert F. Kennedy for homicide exhibit items
The Los Angeles Police Department has apologized to the family of the late Robert F. Kennedy and removed items from a homicide exhibit in Las Vegas that included the dress shirt worn by the senator when he was assassinated in 1968, officials said Tuesday night.
The shirt was among a number of items included in the highly publicized display at the 2010 California Homicide Investigators Assn. Conference, which is being hosted by the LAPD. The crime-scene evidence can be seen by the general public for the next two days.
The multimedia exhibit at the Palms Casino Resort features photographs, videos and evidence from the vaults of the LAPD and the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
The department bills the 8,000-square-foot display as a first-ever look at homicide evidence from some of the city's most notorious cases. "Behind-The-Scenes: The LAPD Homicide Experience" was publicized by the department as including materials that have never been seen in or outside a courtroom.
The showcased items were gleaned from the last 100 years. They include the 1997 Bank of America shootout in North Hollywood, the Black Dahlia slaying, the death investigation of actress Marilyn Monroe, the SLA shootout, the "Onion Field" killing and the bloody Manson family murders.
Also on display was evidence connected to the assassination of Sen. Kennedy, who was shot to death by Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968. Kennedy was mortally wounded in a kitchen pantry moments after declaring victory in the California Democratic presidential primary.
Members of the Kennedy family and others were offended that items -- including a shirt, tie and jacket -- worn by the late senator would be displayed, LAPD officials said.
Those items, which were on display to the media most of Tuesday, were removed and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck apologized to the family.
Reached by phone Tuesday night, Beck said the Kennedy items were removed immediately after he was contacted by one of the family members.
"The last thing we want to do is traumatize a victim's family and I am very sensitive to that," Beck said. "But at the same time, we want to preserve the history of the city of Los Angeles and improve the quality and understanding about our homicide investigations."
He noted that there were "significant lessons" that law enforcement experts around the world could learn from examining not only the high-profile crimes themselves but the resulting media attention and notoriety connected to them.
-- Andrew Blankstein
Photo: Artwork created for the 40th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination. Credit: Jennifer Kohnke/TMS.