Anatomy of an attack on a Venice Resident

BEFORE: Robert Dimassa before the attack, pictured with former Councilman Bill Rosendahl. AFTER: Robert Dimassa two months after the attack by a transient living on Venice Beach.
TOP PHOTO: Robert Dimassa before the attack, pictured with former Councilman Bill Rosendahl. ABOVE: Robert Dimassa two months after the attack by a transient living on Venice Beach.

Dear Editor,

On Wednesday, Oct. 29, 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.

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 passed?

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 cares!

Robert Di Massa

Venice resident since 1990

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. If you have a story to share, email

Body Cameras For LAPD Discussed by Police Commission

The Los Angeles Police Commission, the citizen panel that oversees the police department, will hold community meetings today and Thursday to discuss the development of rules governing the use of body cameras.

Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced a nearly $10 million plan to
purchase 7,000 body cameras by 2016, equipping all LAPD officers with the devices to document interactions with the public, including those in Venice.

The city has already purchased about 800 body cameras for officers in the Newton, Mission and Central divisions.

Police officials said they do not plan to use the cameras until a policy
is in place mandating where and when the devices will be used and what should done with the recordings.

The meetings are set for 6:30 p.m. today at the Green Meadows Recreation Center, 431 E. 89th St., and 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the A.G.B.U. Manoogian-Demirdjian School, 6844 Oakdale Ave., Canoga Park.

Attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union published a blog post Tuesday saying officers involved in fatal shootings or other uses of force should not be allowed to view the body camera recordings prior to giving statements to investigators.

“Any detective would be the first to say that it’s hardly a solid
investigative practice to let the subject of an investigation view the video evidence you have over and over before you even ask them what happened,” attorneys Peter Bibring and Jay Stanley wrote in the post.

They added that “if an officer is inclined to lie or distort the truth
to justify a shooting, showing an officer the video evidence before taking his or her statement allows the officer to lie more effectively, and in ways that the video evidence won’t contradict.”

The ACLU attorneys noted that LAPD officials use a similar rationale
when withholding autopsy results of a person killed by police officers,
contending that the release of such information would taint the testimony of witnesses who have yet to come forward.

Some jurisdictions, such as Oakland the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s
Department, already bar officers from viewing recorded footage ahead of time, Bibring said.

Oakland, where body cameras have been in use for four years, has a
policy that prohibits officers from viewing the footage before being
interviewed by investigators, while the Sheriff’s Department also recently adopted a policy for jail cameras that requires deputies to write their reports before viewing the recordings.

The LAPD’s 2009 policy for in-car digital cameras, which could serve as a model for the body camera policy, recommends officers involved in use-of- force incidents review footage whenever possible before being interviewed by investigators.

The Youth Justice Coalition, a group that represents people whose familymembers were killed by police, has come out against the use of body cameras by the LAPD.

Kim McGill, a spokeswoman for the group, said the plan does not serve the public, who “will not own the footage.” Rather, the recorded evidence “goes through the police department, which collects it, stores it, analyzes it and sometimes distorts it or erases it,” she said.

The cameras would only add “another layer” of policing and
surveillance already experienced by “communities of color,” McGill said.
The group also believes that the nearly $10 million price tag for body
cameras could be better spent on parks, playgrounds, intervention workers and other services, she said.
The Los Angeles Police Commission, which can be reached by calling (213) 236-1400, is also circulating a survey on body cameras, with public input due by Friday. The survey was emailed to at least 1,000 people who are signed up to receive agendas and other information from the commission, as well as participants of Community-Police Advisory Boards.
The questions are:
– When should officers turn the camera on and under what circumstances should they turn them off?
– Are there instances or locations where you believe recordings should not take place?
– How should the LAPD protect the privacy of those individuals who are recorded on video?
– Do you believe officers should be able to view the video prior to
writing the necessary reports?
– Do you believe that department supervisors should regularly review the video captured to ascertain opportunities for improved training?

The survey also asks for any other comments that respondents would like to provide and questions they believe the Police Commission should ask the LAPDas the development of the policy is reviewed.

Responses to the questions can be submitted to .

The Los Angeles Police Department is doing a separate survey at

Venice Art Crawl Mixer at Venice Whaler This Thursday Night

Mingle, network and meet like-minded people that are passionate about Art, Venice and the Local Community this Thursday at Venice Whaler.

“Whether you’re an artist wanting to get involved in future art crawls, a local business owner offering wall space for artists to showcase or interested in volunteering, come join us at the VAC mixer,” organizers said. “Come one come all!”
The event will take place Thursday, January 15 from 6:00 pm – 9:00pm at Venice Whaler, 10 W Washington Blvd.

If you are interested in volunteering and cannot make the mixer please email:

If you are interested in sponsoring the VAC email: 

If you are interested in submitting an event or have general questions please email: or

Poetry in Motion in Venice this Saturday at Beyond Baroque

Joing Eve Brandstein this Saturday as  she presents an eclectic array of writers from the literary and Hollywood communities.

POETRY IN MOTION – SPECIAL EDITION at Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd, Venice

Saturday, 17 January, 8:00 pm

The event features Erixc Trules who is currently a popular theater professor at USC, where he has been a faculty member since 1986.
He is also a Huffington Post blogger, an international Fulbright Scholar, and an Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award winner. In
previous incarnations, he has been a modern dancer, a documentary filmmaker (The Poet and the Con), a screenwriter for
Cinemax, a theater director and producer, a solo performance writer and director, and most proudly, a professional clown.
He has two Word Press blogs, “Trules Rules” and “e-travels with e. trules”.

Find the blogs and see more about him at:

Check out Eve Brandstein’s website  and Facebook page for more information.

Special General Admission – Advanced tickets $15 on Eventbrite; $20 at the door; $10 Students/Seniors;
Members $8

Councilmember Mike Bonin Calls on Venice Residents to Help with Homeless Count

Local councilmember Mike Bonin has issued a  call for Venice residents to get involved with the upcoming city-wide Homeless Count at the end of this month.

Registration is now open via

This is more than an exercise in mathematics, according to Bonin.

“This census of our unhoused neighbors helps determine how much federal, state and county money Los Angeles gets to provide services and get people off the streets and into housing,” Bonin said.

The exercise also determines which neighborhoods get funding, he explained.

“It is crucial that we get an accurate count so we can end homelessness by moving people into housing and off of our streets, sidewalks, alleys, beaches, and out of our wetlands, forests, and from under our bridges.”

The count is taking place Wednesday January 28 at 8 pm.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority will conduct counts in every neighborhood of Council District 11.

It is easy to sign up online and choose a location and volunteer assignment at

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