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Footnote to Simpson Case: a Gift to LAPD

Donation: Owner of towing firm that impounded Bronco will give $5,500 in fees to memorial foundation as gesture of support for the department's work.

September 25, 1997|BETH SHUSTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Call it a small gesture of appreciation toward the Los Angeles Police Department.

The owner of the towing company that kept O. J. Simpson's white Bronco under lock and key for about 2 1/2 years is turning over some of the profits from that impoundment to the Los Angeles Police Memorial Foundation.

Mark Henninger, owner of Keystone Towing in Van Nuys, said the Simpson trial left an undeserved blemish on the LAPD, and he wants cops to know that he feels for them.

"This was a horrible thing that happened to this city," Henninger said. "It gave the Police Department a real black eye. . . . This is my way of saying they aren't all bad guys. They work real hard and they don't get the credit."

Henninger says he will donate about $5,500 of the $11,900 he was paid by the city for holding the vehicle to the foundation.

Sgt. Alan Atkins, a spokesman for the foundation, said the group has received larger donations, but that this one is very generous.

"We will certainly put it to good use," he said.

Created in 1970, the foundation provides assistance to the families and survivors of police officers who died in the line of duty or who have suffered catastrophic injuries or illnesses. The foundation also ensure a college education to the children of officers who have been killed or who die in the line of duty.

Keystone received the Bronco after another towing company came under fire when an employee admitted taking papers from it.

Simpson was acquitted in a criminal trial but found liable for the deaths in a civil trial.

The Ford Bronco was kept by Keystone in a windowless concrete building that has a 24-hour surveillance camera and one key that is used only by employees.

The car was returned to the Hertz Corp., which owned the vehicle and leased it to Simpson, after the civil trial.

The city pays storage fees in most murder investigations in which the car serves as evidence.

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