After a night out in Hollywood with friends, Heidi Van Tassel returned to her car with the intention of heading home. Instead, a homeless man pulled her out of the car, dragged her into the street and dumped a bucket of diarrhea over her head:
“It was diarrhea. Hot liquid. I was soaked, and it was coming off my eyelashes and into my eyes,” Van Tassel said. “Paramedics who came to treat me said there was so much of it on me, that it looked like the man was saving it up for a month.”
“It was all inside my car because it was so much. He just kept pouring it and splattering it all over me,” she said…
“It’s so traumatic. The PTSD that I’m dealing with is beyond anything that I’ve ever felt,” Van Tassel said. “There needs to be some kind of help for the victims of these crimes.”
Van Tassel is understandably traumatized by what happened to her. She was taken to a hospital and tested for infectious diseases. She’ll need to be tested every three months to make sure nothing crops up.
Van Tassel knows there is video of her attack from security cameras for businesses along the street but they wouldn’t release it to her. Police have that video as well as video from body cameras but they won’t release it to her either. I’m not sure what the point of withholding that is, other than to prevent another embarrassment to the city in an area that is popular with a lot of tourists.
As for the man who did this to her, he was arrested and charged with battery. However, because he has serious mental health issues, he was found not competent to stand trial and sent to a treatment facility where he stayed for just two months. Now he’s back on the streets.
There are a surprising number of assaults by homeless people in Los Angeles, though few are as disgusting as the one Van Tassel experienced. This graphic shows the number of arrests and breaks out the number of arrests for assault:
As you can see, the number of arrests overall are up sharply from 2017 and the number of arrests for assault went up about 50 percent from 2017 to 2018. The 2019 data only includes arrests through September, so the final tally for the full calendar year will easily pass the 2018 numbers.
Presumably some of the people arrested are being prosecuted, but in cities up and down the west coast, homeless people often quickly cycle through the system. They are arrested and released and never show up for court dates. Even if they go before a judge they are often given access to some form of pre-trial diversion, such as drug treatment, which may or may not come with a requirement that they complete the treatment.
The NBC4 clip below points out another case in which a homeless man with four previous felonies attacked two random people on the street in the space of a minute. He was given a citation for battery and released. A few months later there was a very similar attack in the same area, though the person responsible wasn’t arrested in that case, not that it would have mattered much if he had been. Hat tip to Jim Treacher for tweeting a link to this story this morning.