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Listen: LAPD Detective Says He Wished He Could Have Killed More of ‘Them’

 

Full Unedited Audio

Updates

  • Jun. 16, 1:59 PM PDT, it was reported by NBC 4 that Frank Lyga admits that it is his voice on the audio.
  • Jun. 16, 4:41 PM PDT, LAPD Commander Andy Smith confirms to me that Det. Lyga is on administrative duty and has been removed from the field.  Removed from the field is not discipline or a promise of discipline, it’s simply removed from the field.  Lyga still reports to work everyday.
  • Lygagate: Why LAPD Detective Frank Lyga Has to Go

 

Why is this man still working for the LAPD?

That’s the question I have for LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck and the Police Commission after listening to an audio recording (above) of Detective Frank Lyga at a recent in-service L.A.P.D. training where he proudly discussed the joy he took in killing off duty C.R.A.S.H. officer Kevin Gaines in 1997.

Lyga, then an undercover narcotics officer, shot and killed 31-year-old Gaines on March 18, 1997.

In part of the audio, which was recorded by an officer attending the training, Lyga recalls a conversation he had with famed civil rights and wrongful death attorney Carl Douglas.

Lyga says, “The last thing I want to say is that Carl Douglas hit me up and said, ‘did you intend to shoot him’?”

With his colleagues laughing in the background, Lyga says he responded to Douglas by saying, “I hit him, didn’t I?”

He says that Douglas asked if it was an accident to which Lyga replied  “No it wasn’t an accident.”

Lyga then says Douglas asked if he had any regrets. “I said yeah,” according to Lyga.  “No, I regret that he was alone in his truck at the time.”

Lyga then goes on to say to his colleagues, “Figure that one out. Hear that?  Alone in the truck at the time.  I could have killed a whole truckload of ‘em…and would have been happily doing it–doing so.”

The audio, according to sources, is from November 15, 2013 at the Elysian Park Police Academy and includes other equally disturbing comments by Lyga all met with snickers and laughs from his colleagues in the audience the entire time.  Which in itself is troubling considering that these are the officers on the streets of Los Angeles interacting with the public.  If they find Lyga’s comments funny and entertaining, what does that say about their state of mind?

Highlights include Lyga saying how 77th Division Captain I Lillian L. Carranza couldn’t find her ass with both her hands because someone else’s hands were always on it and because she’s been “tossed around” a couple of times (6:06). Lyga also referred to civil rights attorney Johnnie Cochran as a “crooked-lipped motherfucker” (8:01) and attorney Carl Douglas as [Johnnie Cochran's] “little Ewok assistant” (22:02).

 

The Backstory

According to reports, investigator’s said that incident began on March 18,1997 with a simple stare between Lyga and Gaines when both were stopped at a traffic signal on Cahuenga Boulevard. It quickly escalated into a verbal confrontation. Lyga allegedly pulled away and informed his colleagues by radio that he was having trouble. Sources said Lyga told other officers that he was being pursued by an irate motorist. A couple of blocks to the south, Gaines pulled up next to Lyga.

A source close to the investigation told the Los Angeles Times at the time that the detective said he heard Gaines shout words that he took to mean he could be shot.

Lyga says he glanced over and saw a gun pointed at him, the source said. “Fearing that he was about to be shot, Lyga drew his duty weapon and fired two rounds in the direction of the suspect,” according to a statement released at the time by the LAPD.

Lyga, 40, had just finished an undercover drug operation and was dressed in grubby clothes to look like a dealer. Police said Lyga had no idea that Gaines was a police officer when he shot him. Gaines apparently was also unaware that Lyga was an officer, the LAPD said.

The day after the shooting a media frenzy followed. A group of African-Americans, led by Gaines’ former partner Derwin Henderson, went to the scene of the incident and began conducting an unofficial investigation.

Former LAPD officer Brian Bentley who was Gaines’ former partner disputed Lyga’s account of what happened. In March 2003, Bentley wrote an article for StreetGangs.com in which he claimed the LAPD deliberately covered up the true circumstances of Kevin Gaines’s death.  Bentley alleged that Detective Lyga had a history of being over-aggressive with African-American suspects, and hailed from the same West Los Angeles police station that produced Mark Fuhrman—a station that Bentley believes to be racist.

Bentley claims that Lyga was overheard bragging in the lobby of this police station that Internal Affairs had told him they would do everything possible to defame Officer Gaines to clear Lyga of wrongdoing. Bentley also noted that Lyga’s claims that Gaines pointed a gun at him with his right hand at his face are false because Gaines was left-handed.

Bentley, an African American, published a “tell-all” book entitled “Honor Without Integrity in 2004”, which details how he engaged in much of the same behavior both on and off-duty as the convicted Rampart cops during his own tenure with the LAPD.

The Gaines family hired Johnnie Cochran to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles for $25,000,000. After the city exonerated Officer Lyga, they settled for $250,000.

It was also alleged that Gaines had ties to Death Row Records, the Bloods, and dated Suge Knight’s ex-wife. An investigation into Gaines’ behavior provided the first clues to the widespread police corruption that morphed into the Rampart Scandal.

Why This Matters Today

Wether or not Gaines was dirty is neither here nor there.  The issue is that in 2014, seventeen years after his killing, under the leadership of a man who is seeking re-appointment as Los Angeles’ top cop, a white detective can get in front of a room of his colleagues and brag about killing a Black police officer with regrets of not being able to kill more—seemingly without any repercussions.

Add to that, for someone who is so concerned about being labeled a racist officer, with the exception of then Lt. Earl Paysinger and then Chief Bernard Parks, he’s got a nickname for every Black he mentions from Derwin Henderson to Johnnie Cochran and Carl Douglas.  Blacks he mentions not by name are always “female Black” or “male Black.”  No one was ever a female white or male white.

So how much has really changed inside of the LAPD?

LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck commented on the NBC 4 news Wednesday night that he wasn’t sure how big a deal the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman were to the Department today.  Beck, said that many of today’s officers weren’t working for the Department 20 years ago.

I beg to differ.  Lyga is proof that the LAPD still employs, harbors, and aids and abets many of the same racist officers it had 20 years ago.  Many of those officers have promoted and aren’t necessarily today’s beat cops, but as Lyga has so colorfully illustrated, they’re still there.

I can’t think of any job but as a member of the LAPD where an employee could make such crude, racist, and sexist statements, especially about co-workers, and not lose their job–or at the very least be severely disciplined.

Earlier this year the L.A. Times reported how Chief Beck was accused of favoritism when he overruled a disciplinary panel’s recommendation to fire Officer Shaun Hillmann, a well-connected officer in the department.

In 2012 Hillmann got into an off-duty altercation at a bar in Norco, pulled a gun, uttered a racial slur (which was caught on tape) and then lied to investigators about the incident. Hillmann’s father is a retired LAPD officer and his uncle is a former deputy chief.

Beck sent the case to a disciplinary panel, which is required if an officer is going to be fired. The panel, made up of two high-ranking police officials and one civilian, dismissed five of the eight allegations against Hillmann but still concluded that the remaining allegations so seriously damaged his integrity that he could no longer carry out his duties. They recommended firing him. Nevertheless, Beck, who has the final say on officer discipline, decided that the three allegations were not enough to justify termination, so he gave the officer a 65-day suspension.

Can we expect more of the same with Lyga?  As of now, I’m told by many Black officers currently serving that they’ve all been told to keep quiet and say nothing.  They also say that Beck is fully aware of what Lyga said—and still nothing.

I don’t have a problem with Beck getting 5 more years as Chief, but only if he can demonstrate to Los Angeles that he’s not playing favorites and protecting racist cops from discipline and firing.  LAPPL or no LAPPL.  Lyga should not still be an active duty anything for the LAPD.  The only thing Lyga should be is an example of how to lose your job.

The family of Kevin Gaines’ should request that the investigation into the killing of Gaines be re-opened, preferably by a different agency, around the same time that Captain Corranza hires Gloria Allred and sues the city for defamation of character—assuming she doesn’t find Lyga’s comments about her as funny as the officers in the room at the time they were made did.

Next: Lygagate: Why LAPD Detective Frank Lyga Has to Go

 

 

Selected as one of ESSENCE Magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World and one the Most Influential African-Americans in Los Angeles Under 40, on radio, television, and in print, Jasmyne Cannick is a politics, race, and pop culture social commentator.  She works as a political communications and media relations consultant and lives in Los Angeles.

  • Steve_Lamb

    Still there and TRAINING younger officers.

  • Steve_Lamb

    Perhaps Lyga is not a racist….But if so, why is it that he goes out of his way to express his complete contempt for every African-American and Latino person he mentions?

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  • Jokes on you…

    Is it bad if I feel what he said wasn’t that bad. The only part that got me was the part about wishing it was more of them kill. Some people seem so excited about killing blacks.

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  • I_Love_LA

    Meh………Kevin Gaines was a more than just a crooked cop, in fact he wasn’t a law enforcement officer at all. Kevin Gaines was an opportunist criminal who ended up with a badge and a gun and used them not to enforce the law and protect the public but to terrorize, rob, and pillage the very community he came from. The Rampart scandal cops were almost entirely black and hispanic, as a result the scandal was mostly ignored by the media and totally ignored by the black and hispanic politicians and powerbrokers of color in city of Los Angeles. Take a good look at what the corrupt rampart cops did and ask yourself if white cops had robbed banks and stole cocaine from evidence rooms what the reaction of the media and politicos would have been. Don’t ask me to shed any tears for the Kevin Gaines of the world.

  • Snidley Q.

    Amen to that. Let me guess – you are not a member of the OJB or the LELEA, correct? I guess the placement of news depends on who the alleged “victim” is. If it’s white on black or white on Hispanic, it is front page, above the fold, headline news. If it is black on black, or black on Hispanic, or black on white, or Hispanic on white, it’s buried back just before the comics. Lyga may be an idiot for feeling that he was still back in the 70s when cops trusted other cops. Frank: this is the new era. Trust no one.

  • BullCocky

    We can point the finger at all of these racist cops. But, why is Chief Beck still working for LAPD. As the saying goes…” the fruit doesn’t fall too far from the tree…”
    Beck showed his racial bias when he failed to to terminated Shawn Hillman for the same type of conduct. If this detective isn’t White he will probably get fired and he should…but why treat this detective any different than Officer Hillman who called Blacks Monkeys and lied to police investigators. Detective Lyga should tell the truth.
    If he does, then he warrants a lighter suspension than Hillman. The Mayor curses on national TV and L.A.’s cops are a bunch of racist–but we knew this from Rodney King.

  • Rev-Thomas Pryor

    Seems to me he is talking about crooked cops, or gang-members, not black people. I would lie to hear more of the tape, not just this little edited snippet, before making a sure conclusion. But I would think he is talking about crooked cops, and gang-bangers, not black people.

  • Sick of LAPD corruption

    Frank Lyga is a hardass with an arrogant personality, but he got screwed over by the LAPD that has ALWAYS protected & coddled corrupt & incompetent officers of color. Listening to this tape sickened me because Jasmyne was outraged about stupid vulgar remarks rather than the high level blatant corruption & conspiracy to get Lyga because he unknowingly killed a dirty cop. Lyga wasn’t wishing for more blacks in tbe truck with Gaines – he was wishing for more crooked cops who were part of a robbery ring.

  • anainsocal

    Listen to the words of what he said. Not what you assume he meant. He didn’t say anything about killing blacks. Gaines was a corrupt cop who pulled a gun on another man in a car. I don’t care what color he was, doing what he did got him killed. Not his color.

  • Bob’s Your Uncle

    “The audio, according to sources, is from November 15, 2013 at the Elysian Park Police Academy and includes other equally disturbing comments by Lyga all met with snickers and laughs from his colleagues in the audience the entire time. Which in itself is troubling considering that these are the officers on the streets of Los Angeles interacting with the public. If they find Lyga’s comments funny and entertaining, what does that say about their state of mind?”

    EXACTLY!

  • Jokes on you…

    I see where you are coming from. He didn’t use the term Blacks (for “them”) explicitly. But is it wrong to presume that a black man was wrongfully killed by an LA cop in the 90′s and that the LAPD helped him get away with it? There were even discrepancies in Lyga’s story who, by officers Bentley’s anecdotal testimony, had been known to be overly aggressive with Blacks. You also “assume” that Gaines pulled a gun on him, this story showed that testimony had holes in it. I may have jumped to conclusions about him meaning Blacks but the fact he said it is worrisome. I’m not saying he did or didn’t kill him just b/c he was black but you can’t tell me I’m completely off basis.

  • thebronze

    Jasmyne obviously has a political and racial agenda. The world needs more people like Frank Lyga and less people like Jasmyne (whomever she is).

  • anainsocal

    There was an investigation into the Lyga/Gaines shooting and Lyga’s colleagues were in communication with Lyga during the incident as it unfolded. Lyga was telling his partners over the radio that he was having issues with a gangster in another car. He also told them that the guy had a gun. Gaines wasn’t some innocent man and it doesn’t matter what color anybody was in this incident. Gaines was a corrupt cop and details of that came out during the Rampart scandal. The only issue here is that Lyga uses extremely poor judgement when running his mouth. I trust LAPD’s investigation into the shooting. There’s no reason not to based on all of the information available.

  • anainsocal

    Judging 10000 cops by the actions of a handful is ridiculous. All of the bad stories make the news and get the attention. The day to day heroic efforts and honorable work ethic that is much more common of cops from any agency nationwide, including the LAPD, doesn’t make for interesting news.

  • anainsocal

    He is telling the story about people who were after him in the investigation of this shooting so I understand him having animosity toward them. What about what he says about Paul Vernon who is a white guy? Nobody has a problem with that. He is angry with everybody against him in the investigation.

  • PetitoTortilla

    Frank Lyga’s theme was race. The Black race. Paul Vernon is Black.

  • PetitoTortilla

    Frank Lyga will keep his job, until he puts in his 30 years as an officer. Most LAPD investigations take about two years to complete, especially if their cushioned by the Chief of Police. Then its another 1-2 years for an administrative hearing (BOR) to convene–to decide either to terminate or suspend the employee. This clown will be long gone. He’ll retire with a 30-year pension.

  • thebronze

    As he should.

  • anainsocal

    Um, no. Lt Paul Vernon is white. Google images if you think I’m wrong.

  • barry usbonds

    Detective Lyga’s recorded comments about Officer Gaines, Johnnie Cochran and Carl Douglas have generated unfavorable publicity and forced LAPD Chief Beck to place him on administrative leave and commence an internal investigation.

    However, it is Lyga’s criticism of a Station Captain and his expressed attitude of disparagement and defiance towards the sanctity of Beck’s Command staff which guarantee Lyga will never serve another day on active duty under LAPD Chief Beck.

  • BullCocky

    Frank Lyga put himself in jeopardy when he asked the class to… ” Get what I mean…” Now, its left to anyone’s interpretation. Here, we are hearing sound bites of the audio. In Rodney King, we viewed selective parts of the tape promoted by the media.
    LAPD doesn’t open up an investigation unless there is wrongdoing and more to the story. But, administratively LAPD can open an investigation and fail to pursue it in a timely manner (1yr) resulting in the investigation being closed and the officer getting away free on a technicality–City of L.A. Charter. The technicality is used for favorite inside Officers. A citizen makes a complaint and it sits in a file-unopened (“Oops, to late to pursue this one! You got away Johnny!) Someone goofed in the Shawn Hillman case and it went to a termination hearing. The Chief then had to stick his neck out to reverse the Hillmann termination to save his… ‘good’ol white boy!” I suspect that Lyga’s legacy will be the save.

  • anainsocal

    LAPD opens up an investigation anytime there is an allegation. You can’t determine wrong doing without investigating. Also, there are timelines on complaint investigations much less than one year. Bullcocky, you are talking about a process you clearly don’t know anything about.

  • BullCocky

    LAPD takes complaints. But, it almost always fails to complete investigations for favorite Officers within the one year statute required by the Officer’s Bill of Rights. Taking a complaint and completing it are all altogether different. Read the City Charter or the Bill. The only way to make Lyga pay for his “sin” would be to now suspend him without pay pending a Board of Rights endorsed by a rushed completed investigation for termination.

  • anainsocal

    Yes LAPD takes complaints and many divisions have a required completion date for those complaints that is around 5 months. It is ridiculously false information that you are rattling off about a wide spread failure for them to complete investigations within a year. That doesn’t happen due to the strict monitoring of the complaint system that is full of checks, balances and audits. You obviously don’t know anything about the true process in which complaints are processed and completed within the LAPD and you don’t know about the Consent Decree and the strict rules it has placed on the LAPD, especially regarding complaint investigations. For your information, Lyga was never considered a favorite officer, as though that even exists in the rank and file, which is evident in how aggressive he was investigated after the shooting. Furthermore, Lyga’s sin is running his mouth too much about his personal opinions which is not an offense that justifies termination.

  • I_Love_LA

    I listened to the tape and I say again……………MEH. This is a room full of cops, not choirboys, not mailmen, not short order cooks but COPS, guys (and gals) who deal with blood and guts 24-7-365. Cops are cliquish by nature and always will be, they have their own vocabulary to describe the mayhem and madness they experience on a daily basis. The only mistake Frank Lyga made was forgetting that we live in a day and age where NOTHING is private and any twerp with a $2.00 Chinese flash drive can surreptitiously record what should have been a PRIVATE conversation amongst law enforcement officers. Lyga is a 30 year vet of the LAPD and I am sure he has seen it all and I’ll bet that after 30 years at your job, whatever job it might be, you will have some opinions that not everyone will care to hear, in my book his 30 years of service gives him the right to say whatever he pleases.

  • ratchetrandy

    Lyga and Gaines were both bad cops. Why cant everyone see that? Instead I see whites protecting Lyga and blacks against him. BOTH COPS WERE CROOKED!

  • BullCocky

    Its kinda cute. You’re backing LAPD all the way!
    The Consent Decree was lifted, but the child is running wild again.

  • anainsocal

    The consent decree was lifted but the policies that came from it have remained in operation.

  • BullCocky

    Thanks for your feedback!

  • bil

    “them” can mean a lot of things, but honestly this article seems very biased towards it meaning blacks. 36 seconds isn’t enough to make a real judgement, but the guy does seem psycho.

  • Jasmyne

    Bill, the audio is 26 minutes long. You need to listen to it all the way through.

  • PetitoTortilla

    We’re a card short of a full deck if anyone believes that strict statues, decrees or even the penal code keeps people or organizations doing the right thing. LAPD was put under the Consent Decree because it weaseled itself into wrong doing.

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  • Sergeant Cathy Marx

    I work and have worked at IA for approximately six years. We absolutely do not open an investigation anytime there is an allegation. And Bullcocky was very accurate about complaints being left open or closed on time depending on the situation. I have seen it for years and it is one of the things I reported to the IG.

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