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Death of LAPD detective investigating Derrick Rose rape allegations called likely suicide

A Los Angeles Police Department detective who was investigating rape allegations against NBA star Derrick Rose died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said Wednesday.

Officers found LAPD Det. Nadine Hernandez, 44, suffering from a single gunshot wound to the chest Tuesday afternoon in a Whittier home, according to the Whittier Police Department. She was transported to a local hospital where she later died.

“At this time, there are no signs of foul play, and this incident is being investigated as a suicide,” Whittier police said Wednesday. “However, this is an ongoing investigation.”

A firearm was recovered at the scene, but it was unclear if it was her service weapon, a police spokesman said. 

In a statement, the LAPD said Hernandez was “among several” detectives assigned to the Rose case. 

“At this point there is no indication that her case work had any connection to her death,” LAPD said. “The Rose investigation will continue unimpeded.”

Whittier police received a call at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday reporting an attempted suicide in the 8400 block of Via Sierra Ramal, Whittier police Lt. Steve Dean said. 

Hernandez was taken to PIH Health Hospital in Whittier, where she died at 3:27 p.m., according to Dean and the L.A. County coroner’s department. 

LAPD investigators responded to the house Tuesday, but Whittier police are conducting the investigation, authorities said.

Law enforcement sources said the house where Hernandez was found belonged to a relative. Property records show the home was registered to a retired LAPD lieutenant.

News of the LAPD’s investigation of Rose came to light last month as an attorney representing the woman in a civil case against Rose and other men made a last-ditch appeal to a judge to conceal her identity.

The woman’s attorney, Brandon Anand, filed a request, in light of the LAPD’s investigation, asking U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald to reconsider a decision to have the woman identified during trial.

Anand included in his request a letter from Hernandez, whom he identified as the officer investigating the case. In it, Hernandez wrote that being able to offer anonymity to people who come forward to accuse others of rape is “an invaluable investigative aid to investigators.” She added that the LAPD would continue to guard the woman’s identity throughout its investigation.

The letter was widely reported in national media. 

The plaintiff and her attorney were visibly surprised in court Wednesday when told of Hernandez’s death.

LAPD sources who were not authorized to speak publicly about the case confirmed that Hernandez was a detective in the department’s Robbery-Homicide Division Special Assault Section. She frequently was involved in high-profile sex crime cases, authorities said. 

Hernandez worked for the LAPD for nearly two decades. As an officer, she worked in the department’s media relations office before moving up the ranks to detective.

“We are heartbroken about the tragic death of Detective Nadine Hernandez, a 19-year veteran of the department,” the LAPD said. “It is a loss that touches us all in the LAPD family.”

Hernandez made the news in 2000 when she and a fellow officer fired shots at a murder suspect who tried to drive toward her and other officers during a confrontation in Studio City. The suspect was struck in the forearm and taken into custody.

hailey.branson@latimes.com

Twitter: @haileybranson

To read the article in Spanish, click here

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UPDATES:

11:40 a.m.: This article was updated with a statement by the LAPD, saying that Hernandez’s work on the Rose case had no connection to her death.

10:20 a.m.: This article was updated with a statement by Whittier police that Hernandez’s death was being investigated as a suicide and information about her career with the LAPD.

9:15 a.m.: This article was updated with details on the location where Hernandez was discovered.

8:35 a.m.: This article was updated with confirmation that Hernandez was a detective working on the Derrick Rose case. 

This article was originally published at 7:55 a.m.

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