A California woman says she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a homeless man randomly doused her with a bucket of diarrhea near the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles earlier this year.
An NBC4 investigation broadcast on Monday night revealed that the vagrant who attacked her was charged with battery, taken to jail, sent to a mental health residential facility for two months, and is now “back on the streets.”
Homeless people who've randomly attacked LA residents–dousing them with diarrhea or punching them in the head–now walk free. @NBCLA I-Team uncovers a system that doesn't help the suspects get treatment or protect the victims from more attacks, on Channel 4 at 11pm.
— Joel Grover (@JoelNBCLA) November 12, 2019
NBC4’s I-Team reports:
Heidi Van Tassel was parked in Hollywood after having a pleasant evening out with friends at an authentic Thai restaurant. Suddenly a man randomly pulled her out of the car, dragged her out to the middle of the street, and dumped a bucket of feces on her head, Van Tassel said and public records confirm.
“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.”
Van Tassel was rushed to Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital after the grotesque attack, where she was tested for infectious diseases caused by contact with feces. She’ll need to be retested every three months.
Van Tassel told NBC4 investigative reporter Joel Grover: “It was all inside my car because it was so much. He just kept pouring it and splattering it all over me,” adding, “The PTSD that I’m dealing with is beyond anything that I’ve ever felt… There needs to be some kind of help for the victims of these crimes.”
According to the report, security cameras captured video of the incident, but the businesses would not release the footage. LAPD also refused to show Van Tassel images recorded from the responding officers’ body cameras. She said police did not return her phone calls after telling her they would investigate the crime.
Police and court records identified the homeless attacker as Jere Blessings, described in the documents as a “transient” with “schizophrenia and psychotic disorders,” the report said. Blessings was found mentally incompetent to stand trial.
“He doesn’t need jail time. He needs mental health care,” Van Tassel told NBC4. “I have empathy for him. Because he needs help.”
The NBC4 I-Team has extensively reported on crimes in L.A. where the suspects are homeless for more than a year. After examining court records, it found many of these cases are linked to methamphetamine abuse or mental illness, and “homeless who are arrested for these crimes are often right back on the streets without getting any treatment.” The investigation said there were 6,528 of these crimes citywide in 2017, more than 9,800 in 2018, and determined those numbers are on track to climb even higher by the end of this year.
Follow Jeffrey Cawood on Twitter@JeffreyCawood.