We’re not against the police. We’re not against the police department, but we are against police who commit misconduct and those who help to cover it up.
Looks like fired Los Angeles police detective Frank Lyga has resurfaced. Apparently Lyga is suing the City of Los Angeles for discrimination–I know, I know, we’ll get to that later.
For those not hip to the Detective Frank “I could have killed a whole truck load of them” Lyga, let’s take a trip back down memory lane.
Back in the olden days of 1997, Frank Lyga shot and killed LAPD Officer Kevin Gaines during a heated traffic dispute between the two. According to the investigation, neither Lyga nor Gaines knew the other was a police officer. During the altercation, Lyga put his gun on his lap for protection when Gaines allegedly pulled beside him, yelled, “I’ll cap you, motherfucker!” and pointed a gun at him. Lyga shot Gaines twice, he acknowledges in the complaint.
After Gaines’ death and seemingly in the tradition of the LAPD, Gaines’ character was severely assassinated.
The LAPD’s investigation claimed that Gaines was working for Death Row Records producer Suge Knight and was romantically involved with Knight’s estranged wife, Sharitha Knight.
Lyga says that investigation also revealed that two of Gaines’s associates were involved in criminal activities, and led to the Rampart Scandal, involving corrupt officers in the LAPD’s Rampart Anti-Gang CRASH unit.
Gaines’ death also sparked controversy because Gaines was black and Lyga is white.
Lyga was found to be acting in self-defense and was cleared of wrongdoing by the LAPD and District Attorney’s Office, but prominent African-American civil rights attorney Johnny Cochran filed a $25 million civil rights suit claiming Lyga intentionally killed Gaines because he was black, Lyga says.
The city settled that lawsuit for $250,000 though the judge determined that Lyga had acted within LAPD guidelines, Lyga says. He says he had “had to live with the charge that he was a racist cop-killer despite the truth of the matter.”
Fast forward to 2014 when I was made hip to audio of Lyga speaking before a training class bragging and boasting about the killing of Gaines.
Before a room full of police officers of various ranks and from various agencies 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.”
Lyga then went on to disparage then 77th Division Captain I Lillian L. Carranza by telling everyone within earshot that she 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.
Lyga also referred to late civil rights attorney Johnnie Cochran as a “crooked-lipped motherfucker” and attorney Carl Douglas as [Johnnie Cochran’s] “little Ewok assistant.”
But the plot thickens.
Shortly after my first post on Frank Lyga’s rant I received a copy of a November 18, 2013 memo to Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger from an unnamed officer, that detailed how Detective Frank Lyga threatened to go to the media after he shot and killed Kevin Gaines in 1997. Lyga told his audience, including members of the LAPD,Glendale Police Department, California Highway Patrol,Los Angeles Port Police, and Los Angeles Unified School Police, that then Chief Bernard Parks wanted to “send him to another unit” after the shooting to “hide him for awhile.” Lyga said that he was “pissed” and told his Captain at the time that “if Parks puts me there I’m going to the media and tell them that this was a sanctioned hit on Gaines by the LAPD.
This happened in November of 2013 and despite records showing that the LAPD brass was made aware of what had been said immediately after it happened, the Department failed to take any action to address Lyga’s comments until the L.A. Weekly’s Dennis Romero and KNBC 4’s Patrick Healy ran the first news reports on my blog post. After that, the rest is history.
Lyga was placed on administrative leave and was eventually fired–coincidentally that decision was announced on my birthday last year. Talk about a happy birthday to me, lol.
To this day, the death of Gaines still remains a controversial issue within the LAPD among the few Black police officers who were on the job in 1997 who see it as murder while their white counterparts claim it was self-defense. Needless to say, Lyga still enjoys a lot of support from old-timers in the Department who I can tell you from the many, many emails I received were sorry to see him go.
But not I. I would have held the door open for him if given the opportunity and let it hit him where the good Lord split him.
So let’s get to today’s news.
According to Court House News, Lyga sued the City of Los Angeles in Federal Court last Thursday, alleging racial discrimination and civil rights violations.
The report says that Lyga says he did not know the conversation was being recorded by police Officer Bruce Stallworth, who was friends with Kevin Gaines.
Stallworth released the comments to the press in June 2014 (I guess that would be me) and filed a personnel complaint against Lyga, which prompted an Internal Affairs investigation. About two months later, Capt. Charles Hearn wrote a letter stating that Lyga “poses a significant liability to the department,” that his comments “are inconsistent with our principles and values,” and that he should be fired, according to the lawsuit.
Lyga says he apologized for his comments in a statement to the LAPD board of rights panel, saying: “I fully admit and recognize that the things I said were very wrong and I deeply regret that I used such poor judgment when I spoke that day. I have no excuse for what I did. I realize that my words were hurtful to many people as well as to the department. I accept responsibility for the harm I caused.”
He said he hoped he could continue to serve the LAPD, but the panel found in October that he should be fired for his remarks. Instead, Lyga says, he chose to retire early so he could collect pension benefits.
Lyga claims he has suffered “physical illness and physical injuries” and mental distress from the humiliation of being fired and “from the defamation and the attacks on his character.”
Court House News says that Lyga claims the LAPD had no evidence that he is racist, but fast-tracked his termination because he is white and because his statements made the LAPD look like a racist institution.
Lyga claims he was fired because of political pressure from the African-American community “based on their unfounded allegations that Lyga was a racist cop killer.”
He claims he would not have been fired if he were black, and that black officer would not be fired for making the same statements he did.
To make it right, Lyga wants $300,000 in compensatory and statutory damages, special damages, back pay, front pay and reinstatement. Yes–he wants to come back to work.
Oh Lord have mercy, this is going to be interesting.
Personally, I don’t think the LAPD needs cops like Frank Lyga on its payroll–and from what I can tell there are a few more relics of this ilk still collecting a pay check and on active duty.
I say goodbye and good riddens.
On a closing note, what I really want to know is, what happened to the 37 folks–give or a take a few– minus the one who reported the comments, who sat in that room laughing at everything Frank Lyga said? Lyga’s comments, while disturbing, aren’t the only issue on that audio tape and the Department knows exactly who was in that room.