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Los Angeles - A policeman lifted a sheet covering the just-dead body of singing legend Whitney Houston and made “inappropriate” comments including saying “Damn, she's still looking good, huh?” another officer claims.
Beverly Hills Detective Sergeant Terry Nutall had “no legitimate” reason for the action or remarks, made at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 11 last year, after she had been found dead in a bath, said a legal document filed by the fellow cop, published Tuesday.
A coroner subsequently ruled that the 48-year-old singing legend died of accidental drowning, with cocaine and heart disease listed as contributing factors, on the eve of last year's Grammys show.
In the legal claim, published by the Los Angeles Times, fellow officer Sergeant Brian Weir alleges that he was stripped of various privileges when he raised the alleged misconduct with superiors.
“Nutall, for no legitimate (reason) knelt beside and leaned over the decedent (and) removed the sheet and/or other covering from the body of the decedent to an area below the pubic region of the decedent's body,” it said.
He then “came in close proximity to touching the body .. while making inappropriate comments to the effect .. that the decedent 'looked attractive for a woman of her age and current state' and 'Damn, she's still looking good, huh?'“
“Nutall... treated the dead body of the decedent in a way that Nutall knew would outrage ordinary family sensibilities,” he alleged in the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles on September 11.
Weir said he responded to the Beverly Hilton Hotel - where Houston was due to attend a traditional pre-Grammys party that Saturday evening - as the senior patrol sergeant on duty at the time.
Afterwards, he raised the alleged misconduct with superiors, but claims that the city of Beverly Hills and its Police Department “retaliated” by removing him from duty with SWAT and K-9 units, cutting overtime pay, withdrawing certain privileges and harassing him.
Weir “has sustained and will continue to sustain economic and non-economic damages including emotional distress and damage to claimant's reputation, and other injury, damage, loss, or harm,” said the lawsuit.
Beverly Hills Police spokesman Lincoln Hoshino said there was no “retaliation” against Weir over the claim, which he said the department knew about.
He added that Nutall had been entitled to look at the body.
“The responding detective sergeant in question was working in the city of Beverly Hills on another assignment, and he did properly and appropriately respond to the scene,” he told the LA Times.
“It is appropriate for a responding detective sergeant to briefly examine the body upon arriving to a scene like that.”
And he added: “At this time we're not aware of any inappropriate behaviour or inappropriate comments.”
A 42-page coroner's report issued in April last year said Houston drowned face down in her bathtub at the famous Beverly Hills hotel, possibly after overdosing on drugs and alcohol.
Various bottles were found in the hotel room - in all about 12 medications prescribed by five different doctors, including anxiety treatment Xanax and the potent corticosteroid Prednisone, the report said.
The singer of hits such as ‘I Will Always Love Youy’ sold more than 170 million records during a nearly three-decade career, but also fought a long battle against substance abuse. - Sapa-AFP