According to a claim filed last week, a Beverly Hills police sergeant behaved inappropriately at the scene of Whitney Houston’s death in 2012.
The sergeant reportedly lifted up the sheet that covered Houston’s naked body and proceeded to comment on how good she looked, says an NBC News report..
Despite “no legitimate law enforcement inquiry, investigative, or other proper and legal purpose,” alleges the claim, which was filed by another member of the force, Det. Sgt. Terry Nutall “knelt beside and leaned over the decedent, removed the sheet and/or other covering from the body … to an area below the pubic region.”
While nearly touching the singer’s body, Nutall allegedly then made “inappropriate comments … that the decedent ‘looked attractive for a woman of her age and current state,’” and said, “’Damn, she’s still looking good, huh?’”
On Feb. 11, 2012 Houston was found dead at the Beverly Hilton. According to the Los Angeles County Coroner, she died of accidental drowning, with cocaine use and heart disease as contributing factors. She was 48.
The claim against Nutall was filed by former Beverly Hills SWAT supervisor Brian Weir. As senior patrol sergeant on duty, Weir says he arrived at the death scene and “attempted to secure and preserve the scene of the death.” He says that Nutall arrived on scene after a sheet was placed over Houston’s body to “prevent contamination.”
After reporting the alleged misconduct, Weir says he was removed from his position as head of the dept.’s SWAT team.
Beverly Hills Police Lt. Lincoln Hoshino disputed the claim’s characterizations, and said he was unaware of any lawsuit by Weir. He said Nutall was near the Houston death scene and was the detective division sergeant on duty, which meant it was appropriate for him to respond. (Nutall has since been promoted to lieutenant.)
“He would be expected to respond to that type of incident and his supervisor was fully aware that he went to the scene,” said Hoshino. As for Nutall’s alleged comments about Houston’s body, Hoshino said that the department was not aware of “any inappropriate behavior or any inappropriate comments. We stand behind the investigation 100 percent, including the conclusion from the coroner’s office.”
Attorney Dmitry Gorin, a former Los Angeles County Deputy D.A., said that if true, Weir’s allegations raise questions about whether investigators properly secured the scene and whether they unnecessarily exposed the department and city to future civil litigation.
“If proven, officer Nutall’s actions were highly inappropriate and demonstrate very poor judgment by a senior BHPD officer,” Gorin said. “A law enforcement officer more interested in what a decedent’s body looks like than securing a possible crime scene may taint the original placement of relevant DNA and fiber evidence, causing investigators to miss data and draw incorrect conclusions.”