Entertainment Consultant Killed by Woman Who Stalked His Film Director Friend, Prosecutors Say

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
December 2, 2023US News
Entertainment Consultant Killed by Woman Who Stalked His Film Director Friend, Prosecutors Say
A self-portrait of entertainment marketing consultant Michael Latt. (Sundance Institute via AP)

LOS ANGELES—A high-profile entertainment marketing consultant was targeted by a woman who had been stalking and threatening a film director friend of his before she fatally shot him after her forcing her way inside his Los Angeles home, according to prosecutors and court records obtained Thursday.

This week’s slaying of Michael Latt sent shockwaves through Hollywood as the suspect faces charges of murder and burglary. Mr. Latt, 33, had worked on projects with filmmakers including Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay, as well as rap artist Common.

He was pronounced dead Monday at a hospital. Prosecutors allege that Jameelah Elena Michl, 36, knocked on his home’s door and forced herself inside once it was open.

She had sought out Mr. Latt’s home “after she targeted him for being friends with a woman she had been stalking,” the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release Thursday. She allegedly fired at him with a semi-automatic handgun.

The suspect previously had a restraining order filed against her by a friend of Mr. Latt’s, film director A.V. Rockwell, who said in court filings that Ms. Michl worked as an extra in one of her films, “A Thousand And One.” After production concluded, Ms. Michl began to stalk Ms. Rockwell, the director claimed in a June application for the order.

Ms. Rockwell said after she did not respond to Ms. Michl’s overtures for a personal relationship, the woman hand-delivered alarming letters to the director’s home threatening self-harm.

“My Glock is loaded as I write this,” Ms. Michl wrote in one letter, according to the court filings. “One pull of the trigger and I’ll be free.”

Ms. Rockwell was not at Mr. Latt’s house when he was shot, authorities said.

Ms. Michl’s arraignment in the killing was continued to Dec. 15, so she has not yet entered a plea, and prosecutors are seeking $3 million bail. If convicted, she could face a sentence of life in prison. Ms. Michl will be represented by a public defender, though one had not yet been assigned to her case, the public defender’s office said.

Detectives seized Ms. Michl’s vehicle, which she had been living in, as evidence. She stayed at the scene and was taken into custody.

In January, Mr. Latt and Ms. Rockwell both attended the Sundance Film Festival, where Ms. Rockwell’s movie won the Grand Jury Prize. Mr. Latt posted a photo with Ms. Rockwell on Instagram with the caption, “Congratulations to @AVRockwell on your incredible feature film directorial debut, A Thousand and One.”

Ms. Michl sent “at least 5 extremely long and threatening emails and text messages,” repeatedly called Ms. Rockwell’s cell phone and approached the director at public events, the documents show.

“As you continue to bask in the glory of ‘A Thousand and One,’ l want you to remember, and not forget all the hell that people went through to help bring your masterpiece to the screen,” Ms. Michl wrote in an April 29 email.

On May 3, Ms. Michl wrote again, threatening suicide.

“I’m taking my Glock into Griffith Park and not coming out,” she wrote in an email.

Ms. Rockwell got the restraining order reissued on numerous occasions, according to court documents. A representative for Ms. Rockwell did not immediately respond to an email Thursday seeking comment from the director.

Mr. Latt’s marketing firm, Lead with Love, focused on social impact, and he was inspired to start the business after working on Mr. Coogler’s film “Fruitvale Station,” about the 2009 police shooting of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California, that starred Michael B. Jordan.

He was born into a show business family: His mother, Michelle Satter, is one of the founding directors of the Sundance Institute’s artists programs, where she has helped filmmakers such as Mr. Coogler and Quentin Tarantino early in their careers. His father, David Latt, is a film producer, and his brother is an agent.

Mr. Latt had also worked at the Sundance Institute, which issued a statement on behalf of his family.

“He dedicated his career to serving others, employing storytelling, art, and various mediums to create enduring change and galvanizing communities with hope, love, and inspiration,” the statement said. “Michael will never be forgotten and his legacy and work will carry on through his family, his friends, and his colleagues.”

Ms. Rockwell’s film “ A Thousand and One,” starring Teyana Taylor as a single mother, won a Gotham Award on Monday night for breakthrough director.

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