SFPD now agrees to reclassify French case

February 25, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
For almost two years, a French couple has felt San Francisco police were incompetent, bungling the investigation into their son's stabbing death. On Monday the father of Hugue De la Plaza says he is finally relieved. He and his wife came to San Francisco from France this week and they say police are finally investigating the case as a homicide.

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Francois De La Plaza finally feels like he's getting somewhere with the San Francisco Police. He and his wife met with investigators at the Hall of Justice Wednesday, a year and half since their son, Hugue, was found dead in his apartment with multiple stab wounds.

"I have changed my position. Now, I'm very happy we're collaborating between the police department from the United States and the French Police," said Francois De La Plaza.

This case of Hugue De La Plaza, a 36-year-old with dual French, U.S. citizenship, has captured France's attention. French officers even came to the city to launch their own investigation after what they believed was incompetence by San Francisco Police. SFPD investigators reportedly told the family Hugue's death may have been a suicide, even though a knife found in the apartment had no blood on it.

"They realize that they had to investigate it as a murder instead of a suicide and now we feel we can work with them," said Francois De La Plaza.

San Francisco Police insist they've never said Hugue De La Plaza's death was likely a suicide. They cite miscommunication and say Wednesday's meeting helped clarify to the family that they have been on top of this case since day one, yet have been forced to remain tight-lipped because it's an ongoing investigation.

"We have assigned a number of investigators during the course of interviews with forensic evidence to oversee what our investigation has lead to," said Deputy Chief David Shinn, from the San Francisco Police Department.

De La Plaza now hopes his offer of a $100,000 reward will help investigators nail down a suspect. A lot of time has passed, but de la plaza remains positive.

"The elements of the research has kind of dissipated. However, we feel very confident we will find the murderer," says De La Plaza.

Francois De La Plaza will make a formal announcement about the reward, at noon on Thursday at the steps of San Francisco City Hall. He will be joined by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who's been calling for swift action in this case.

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