Friday, January 9, 2015

Anatomy of an Attack on a Venice Resident

(Editor’s note:  This is another installment in the series about home invasions and attacks on Venice residents committed by transients living in or near the Venice Beach Recreation Area.)

On Wednesday, October 29th, about 7:15 AM, I left my home on Park Avenue, a walk street in Venice between Pacific Avenue and Ocean Front Walk.  I have a Medical Alert Service Animal, due to my history of diabetic seizures resulting from treatment for pancreatic cancer several years ago.  Of course, my dog Tiger needs a walk every morning, so we usually go to the Boardwalk to stroll on the grassy areas in the adjacent park.  The street lights have not worked on my street for many years, so it is very dark at that hour.

Like many mornings, I had to walk over or next to several homeless people who frequently sleep next to our houses on the sidewalk until someone tells them to leave or until they decide to move on.  On many occasions these campers are still drugged-up and/or sleep deprived in the morning. 

On this morning I was attacked from behind by a transient with a metal rake after my dog urinated on the sidewalk near where he had been sleeping on the pavement. 

Robert with Councilman Rosendahl before the attack
I can still hear his voice.  He said, “I’ll kill that dog.”  He was going to hit Tiger with a metal rake.
I was able to put Tiger inside a neighbor’s yard and when I turned back the guy hit me with the metal rake. I grabbed the end of the rake to stop the attack and we spun around and I hit a wood fence which fell over on top of me, knocking me to the ground.

The attacker then grabbed onto my right arm and wrenched it backwards in the shoulder socket, injuring me so badly that I still cannot fully use that arm.  This guy also hit me in the ribs, the back of my leg and my butt with a heavy object, possibly a brick or large rock, and then hit me in the face and head.

As a result I have two broken ribs on the left side of my torso, my right arm is still extensively damaged and I have bruised areas on my face.

I was told the damage to my right shoulder and the broken ribs will take a year to heal.
Two months after the attack, I still have two black eyes.  The back of my leg is still black and blue.

Right away the LAPD showed up. I told them the guy had just turned the corner but they did not pursue the attacker.  (They did ask for a description so they could put out a radio call, but it is unclear if any officers actively looked for the attacker.)

The LAPD would not give me a business card or a copy of the incident report.  The male officer asked, “Why aren’t you giving him a copy of the report?”  The female officer replied, “I am not done filling out the report.”  She asked me for my phone number and email address, and also asked if I was going to be home all day.  She implied she would send me a copy of the report.  I never heard from anyone regarding this matter.

What can be done now that two months have past?

The reality is Venice residents are not safe, in or outside of our homes. We allow these panhandlers to have free access to protected vending spaces for artists on the Boardwalk who then set up permanent encampments and pretend they are selling art, when they really are just hanging out doing drugs like Meth and drinking in the open all day and all night.

Never before in Venice, and I’ve been here for 25 years, have I felt like I have to carry something, like pepper spray, to be able to defend myself from these crazy drug addicts who have taken up residence in our small beachside community in the last year or two.

And no one cares! 

Robert Di Massa
Venice resident since 1990