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LAPD says it can't investigate Charlie Sheen

Despite an accusation that the TV star threatened to decapitate his estranged wife, officials say they must wait for Brooke Mueller to file a complaint. A judge issued a restraining order this week.

March 05, 2011|By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
  • Charlie Sheen and his wife, Brooke Mueller, arrive at the 2009 Emmy Awards ceremony at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.
Charlie Sheen and his wife, Brooke Mueller, arrive at the 2009 Emmy Awards… (Jason Merritt, Getty Images )

Charlie Sheen's estranged wife said this week that the TV star vowed to decapitate her and send her severed head to her mother. But Brooke Mueller's statements filed in court are not enough for the Los Angeles Police Department to open a criminal investigation.

This week a judge issued a temporary restraining order against Sheen, who has pleaded no contest twice on domestic violence charges. But LAPD officials said they've determined that they can launch a probe only if Mueller files a complaint, which as of Friday she has not.

"It is incumbent on her to come forward and make a police report," said Los Angeles Police Sgt. Mitzi Grasso. "Our hands are tied."

Those who help domestic violence victims said Sheen's case is in many ways similar to many others they see — women who get restraining orders but are too frightened or otherwise unwilling to report incidents to police. They say getting domestic abuse victims to make police reports is a continuing struggle. Victims sometimes fear that reporting an abuser to police would lead to the abuser's arrest and make life more difficult — financially or emotionally — for the children.

TuLynn Smylie, executive director of the Women's Shelter of Long Beach, said she believes police should investigate "if a judge believes there is enough evidence for a restraining order. That says she has a credible story," she said.

Smylie and others said the Sheen situation focused attention on a quandary that police face. "If a police report isn't made, it makes it very hard for law enforcement," said Olivia Rodriguez, executive director of Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Council. "When we get involved, one of the first things we emphasize to survivors is to make a police report."

The restraining order issued by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Hank Goldberg on Tuesday came after Mueller, in her application for the order, accused the actor of being "insane." Mueller alleged Sheen repeatedly threatened to kill her, including Sunday night when he told her, "I will cut your head off, put it in a box and send it to your mom!" In a text, he talked about killing his manager.

Mueller's attorney did not return calls seeking comment Friday. Sheen's attorney declined to comment. The actor has said he does not hit women.

Mueller and Sheen separated after a domestic violence incident in 2009 in Aspen, Colo. Sheen pleaded guilty to misdemeanor third-degree assault after the incident. Mueller told authorities that Sheen had held her at knife point.

Mueller said in the declaration she filed with the court that in October 2009, Sheen "knocked me to the floor, causing me to hit my head on the corner of a couch. I was knocked unconscious and required medical attention," including a CT scan.

Sheen in 1996 pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of battery with serious bodily injury after he was accused of of knocking his then-girlfriend Brittany Ashland to the floor.

Attorney Gloria Allred, who represented Ashland in 1996, said she was troubled to read about the allegations in Mueller's restraining order application, saying some of the details are similar to earlier allegations made against Sheen.

Allred said that while it is general police policy not to investigate domestic violence claims without a report, there is nothing legally stopping police.

"Ultimately there is nothing to stop them pursuing it. If they are aware of a dangerous situation, they should at the least ask her if she wants to fill a report," she said. "This is a public safety matter because could endanger others, including the police officers who respond to a domestic violence call."

Allred also suggested another option for police: "They should go out and ask if she wants to file a police report."

In a CNN interview with Piers Morgan this week, Sheen said he is not a violent person.

"Women are not to be hit," he said."They are to be hugged and caressed."

But then Sheen did recall an incident in which, he said, a women attacked him and he had to "contain" her.

richard.winton@latimes.com

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