A report from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office is raising questions about the official police account of the November 2010 murder of longtime showbiz publicist Ronni Chasen.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the autopsy report states that while Chasen was stopped at a red light at the intersection, “an unknown vehicle pulled up and someone fired approximately four gunshots into her vehicle.” But that account, based on initial informant and witness statements, came in a coroner investigator’s narrative that was prepared on Nov. 16, the same day that Chasen was murdered.
Beverly Hills police and other investigators later concluded that Chasen was shot by small-time crook Harold Martin Smith, who pulled up alongside her car on a bike and tried to rob her. Smith later shot himself in a Hollywood apartment building as police were trying to bring him in for questioning.
The Nov. 16, 2010 coroner’s report is based on statements that Beverly Hills police detective Chris Coulter made to Lt. Larry Dietz of the Forensic Science Center. It states that while Chasen “was stopped at a red light at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Whittier Drive an unknown vehicle pulled up and someone fired approximately 4 gunshots into her vehicle. All witnesses report hearing 4 gunshots. After being struck by gunfire and she then made a left turn and drove for approximately a quarter mile before she crashed her car into a pole.”
Chasen’s violent death jolted the showbiz community. Some friends of the veteran praiser have long been skeptical of the official law enforcement account of her death.
NBC News’ Andrew Blankstein, citing a source familiar with the case, reported that the autopsy report was delayed in its release because police were trying “to protect the Chasen family.”
(Pictured above: Beverly Hills Police chief Dave Snowden, left, and Beverly Hills mayor Jimmy Delshad at a December 2010 news conference on the murder investigation.)