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Families File Claim Over Botched Blast In South Los Angeles

SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Families displaced by the Los Angeles Police Department's botched attempt to safely detonate a cache of illegal fireworks in South Los Angeles last month are now taking action against the city and the department.

LAPDs bomb dispoal truck destroyed in fireworks explosion.
Los Angeles, CA - July 04: Investigation continues in a fireworks explosion that destroyed a LAPDs bomb squad vehicle last Wednesday at 700 block of East 27th Street on Sunday, July 4, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

"We want help," Jose Becerra, a victim of that explosion, said.

Attorneys for his family said Wednesday that they had filed a claim against the city and LAPD for injuries and property loss related to the explosion.

The family of nine, who live near the intersection of 27th and San Pedro streets, lost everything in the blast and were still recovering from their injuries nearly two weeks later.

"We want somebody to help our family in the way that we can have another opportunity to have what we lost," Becerra said.

The family has been living in a motel with the use of vouchers from the Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System, a social services agency focused on bringing housing stability to people living in South Los Angeles.

"When you take away basic services — home, shelter, car, the ability to work, his car, his ability to work," Michael Alder, an attorney for the family, said.

Alder represents the the Becerras and other families impacted by the explosion. He said the city and the LAPD have completely ignored all of his office's efforts to communicate.

"So if someone from the city is out there, please give me a call," he said.

Local officials, including Councilman Curren Price whose office has been leading the effort to connect victims with services and LAPD, attended a Monday town hall where the explosion was discussed.

"We thank those residents, those organizations, the councilman," LAPD Deputy Chief Al Labrada said.

But some victims said they felt attacked by other attendees who turned the meeting into an argument between those who support LAPD and those who did not.

"This is not a bash the police, but the police have admittedly screwed up," Adler said Tuesday. "So help these families."

Immigration attorney Cynthia Santiago also said part of the problem was that some of the families impacted were undocumented and were afraid to ask for help.

"We're urging families to please come forward regardless of their immigration status," she said. "We can help them."

Alder said the city has 45 days to respond to the claim. If the city fails to respond, Alder said the next step would be to file a lawsuit on behalf of the victims.

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