The family of a South Los Angeles man with dementia missing since early this month, when officers dropped him off nearly 12 miles away from his home after his twin brother’s DUI arrest, on Thursday called on authorities to do more to find the 62-year-old.
Douglas James and his small dog, Teddy Bear, were riding in the passenger seat when his brother, Donald James, was pulled over by officers on the southbound 110 Freeway in Carson around 9:45 p.m. Nov. 5, California Highway Patrol said in a news release.
Officers took Donald James to the CHP station on Hamilton Avenue, where he was held about 10 minutes before being cited and ordered to appear in court in February, according to the family’s attorney, Mark Ravis.
Donald says CHP then drove him home to the apartment he shares with his twin on the 8200 block of Main Street in Florence. When he arrived, he says he was shocked his brother and dog were nowhere to be found — the officers had promised the pair would be driven home.
“I told them, ‘I don’t care what you guys do with me, please take my brother home; he don’t know where to go,'” Donald said in a Thursday news conference. “So they said they would take him home.”
Donald says he repeatedly informed the officers of his brother’s mental state, and bodycam video should show that.
In a Thursday news release, CHP claimed it only more recently became aware of the missing man’s dementia.
“It is our understanding Douglas James communicated with the officers freely and logically and exhibited no indication he was unable to care for himself,” the agency said. “However, in light of these recent statements we are reviewing the actions of the officers involved in this incident.”
CHP says its officers dropped off Douglas and Teddy Bear at a Carl’s Jr. at 840 Sepulveda Blvd. in West Carson at 10:23 p.m. and verified he had his cellphone and wallet.
Douglas’ son, Donte James, said the cellphone likely wasn’t charged and his father didn’t know how to work it well. Donte said it can be easy to overlook his father’s condition, because he thinks he knows what he’s doing.
“He’s going to get out (of the car), because he thinks he’s close to home,” he said. “To drop him off anywhere, I’m outraged at that. It’s no respect.”
Donte says he knows how easily things can turn for his father, recalling a recent trip to Walmart where he lost the 62-year-old for 20 minutes.
“I understand how it can happen, so I just got worried really quick, because I’ve seen it first-hand,” Donte James said. “I’ve seem him like, ‘Where am I at?’ or ‘What am I doing?'”
Douglas took medication for his dementia that he didn’t have on him at the time, the family said.
Donte says his father was a boxer, which may have contributed to his mental degradation. He doesn’t think Douglas would be able to tell someone where he lives or any of his relatives’ phone numbers.
Donald James says that, after he got home at 1 a.m., he immediately called CHP. He was told his brother and dog were left at an Arco station at 810 Sepulveda Blvd., so he got his car out of impound and immediately went searching for them.
Donald says, after telling him Douglas was left at an Arco, CHP said it was a nearby Jack in the Box, then the Carl’s Jr. — “so I don’t know what happened, really.”
“I searched all the places. I went looking all that night, the next morning and the next day,” he said. “I’ve been looking up until this date now. I’ve been all around town, on Skid Row, showing pictures of him and everything.”
The Los Angeles Police Department says a missing persons report was officially filed for Douglas James on Nov. 7. Donald James says LAPD initially didn’t want to file a report, because they saw it as a CHP issue.
Ravis called the situation an “outrage” and said Douglas is missing because of the “misconduct of the Highway Patrol.”
“This shows total disrespect for a minority, impoverished and disenfranchised population,” Ravis said. “We demand to have some respect for this family, and for the missing man. We want everything done to try and find him.”
LAPD Detective Oscar Casino says Teddy Bear was found Nov. 7, near where he was dropped off, and is back home with his family.
Several people have reported spotting Douglas James around town, but none of those reports have been confirmed. The most recent unconfirmed reports have placed the missing man in an area just south of the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Casino said.
Police describe Douglas James as a black man with light gray or white hair and brown eyes. He’s about 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs about 150 pounds.
Casino said he has a distinctive, long, gray goatee that completely covers his chin, “kind of like Santa Claus.”
Douglas’ family says he was last seen wearing black pants with a black, short-sleeved shirt and black sneakers with white bottoms.
Ravis said the family has been calling all area hospitals and the coroner’s office every day for a sign of him, but there’s been none. His loved ones hope they’ll be reunited in time for the holidays.
Anyone with information can contact the James family at 909-243-6368, or LAPD’s Missing Persons Unit at 213-996-1800. A 24-hour, anonymous law enforcement tip line is also available at 800-222-8477.