Now that LAPD detective Frank Lyga has been recommended for termination based on what he said about his role in the killing of Officer Kevin Gaines in 1997 during a November 15 training at the Police Academy — all eyes are on Chief Charlie Beck and whether or not he’ll accept the decision of the disciplinary panel and terminate the 28-year veteran.
If you remember, a similar panel recommended termination for Officer Shaun Hillmann earlier this year for his off duty antics in Murietta that involved him calling a Black man a ‘nigger monkey’ and pulling out his gun. The Chief opted instead to give Hillmann a 65-day suspension. Oh and let me not forget to mention that Hillmann is the son and nephew of two department favorites.
Similarly, in a lesser known case Chief Beck used what is known as a military endorsement in the case of Officer Alex Peraza who was accused of domestic violence against his then-officer wife (LAPD). Beck’s decision sent the case from a Board of Rights hearing to a settlement hearing. A military endorsement is a lifeline of sorts when you are about to face a Board of Rights. It gives the next level reviewer, basically anyone higher in rank in the disciplinary process, the option of canceling the Board of Rights in lieu of a lesser punishment. The rumor is Officer Peraza received a penalty of a five-day suspension for physically abusing his ex-wife, her mother and sister. He is still on the job today even though there are documented police reports, restraining orders, photos, and text messages from him showing that he did in fact put his hands on his wife.
Which brings me to Sergeant Jim Parker who the department seems hellbent on terminating after he released the audio from his encounter with actress Daniele Watts in an effort to avoid a potential race riot after she claimed racial profiling. He’s under investigation internally as well as with the city’s Ethics Commission. For a department that usually can’t move faster than 5 miles per hour when it comes to discipline, they are moving at rapid speed to deal with Parker — and one can only guess what they are going to do to him. When last I spoke on this, the department was trying to jam Parker up on making discourteous comments to Watts. The only person making discourteous comments was Watts to Parker and the other officers on the scene, but I digressed.
I don’t know if Chief Beck can fire Detective Lyga and maintain what’s left of the respect the rank-and-file has for him given his penchant for showing favoritism and lack of consistency when it comes to discipline. He’s not a very well liked Chief as it is now by the men and women who serve under him. Firing Lyga isn’t going to help that situation at all. On the other hand, if he doesn’t fire Lyga, the message he’s peddling to the community about the LAPD being a different department is clearly false and misleading.
Maybe Lyga will spare Chief Beck the agony of making a decision and just retire. I doubt it though as his attorney is filing an appeal today.
Should Beck fire Lyga? I’m thinking yes, absolutely. But given the punishment others have received for more serious offenses, I’m thinking maybe not. Can Beck fire Lyga? Sure if he wanted to. Will he fire Lyga? That I’m not so sure of.
What say you? Should the Chief fire Lyga? Can he fire Lyga and still be taken seriously as a leader? Will he spare Lyga in light of his lesser punishments for harsher offenses?