L.A. to Pay $50,000 to Ex-Cop Who Killed Fellow Officer, 'Would Have Been Happy' to Shoot 'Whole Truckload' of People

Detective Frank Lyga said his only regret about the fatal 1997 shooting of a black officer whom he mistook as a gang member was that "he was alone in the truck at the time."

|

NBC News/YouTube

During a 2013 police training seminar, long-time Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Detective Frank Lyga recalled being asked if he regretted fatally shooting a fellow officer back in 1997 when the two men—Lyga white; the other officer, Kevin Gaines, black and working undercover—were involved in a road-rage incident. "I said, 'No, I regret he was alone in the truck at the time," Lyga responded. "I could have killed a whole truckload of them, and I would have been happy doing it."

While Lyga later said that by "them" he merely meant anyone threatening him, many interpreted him to have meant "a whole truckload" of black people—confirming some's supicions, originally raised at the time of the shooting, that racial bias played a role in Lyga's reaction. Lyga told people after the shooting that he thought Gaines, who had verbally threatened him, was a gang member.

During the training seminar, Lyga also called Carl Douglas, the prominent civil-rights attorney who had represented Gaines in a civil suit against Lyga, a "little ewok"; described another officer as a "fruit"; and called a former female LAPD captain a "very cute little Hispanic lady who couldn't find her ass with both of her hands" and had been "swapped around a bunch of times."

When an audio recording of these remarks—recorded by a police trainee in attendance—became public, the city placed Lyga, a 28-year LAPD veteran, on paid administrative leave.

The LAPD Board of Rights eventually found Lyga guilty of misconduct and recommended that he be fired, but Lyga retired before the police chief could file his termination paperwork. Then he filed a federal lawsuit against the city, alleging he was unfairly targeted due to "political pressure" from the black community because he was a "white police officer who was wrongfully perceived to be racist." Lyga sought $300,000 in damages, back pay, and reinstatement as an LAPD detective.

In an agreement signed by a deputy city attorney Friday, the city admitted to no "past or present wrongdoing" but agreed to pay Lyga $50,000 to settle the suit.

NEXT: Trump-Loving Indian Teenager Kicked Out of Rally, Now Voting for Gary Johnson

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Well now Frank Lyga can devote himself full-time to commenting on H&R.

    1. What makes you think our yokels can grow a mustache like that one?

  2. Not ransom.

  3. Help me out here…what is wrong with the black community demanding that this guy be fired?

    And why wasn’t he fired when he shot a guy?

    1. Wow, my summary was even more simplistic than Wikipedia’s. I’m embarrassed.

      1. So to Officer Lyga’s lawyers – I totally don’t know what happened, maybe he’s innocent after all.

    2. He wasn’t fired because it was ruled self-defense, as Gaines was following him while brandishing a .45

      1. I realize that now, after checking Wikipedia.

        I keep forgetting that Reason likes to give a fairly…sparse…summary of many incidents.

  4. If this story doesn’t restore your faith in humanity, nothing will.

    1. I have faith that humanity sucks – does that count?

  5. Man, how can you write a post about Frank Lyga and Kevin Gaines without mentioning Rampart?? That’s the only interesting thing about this story.

    http://tinyurl.com/jg869ju

    1. So you’re saying Lyga is a hero?

      1. No, just noting that Gaines was a crooked cop and Lyga was cleared due to a plausible self-defense claim, which ENB didn’t bother to include. As always, the goals of social justice are noble even if the tactics are not.

        Besides, like I said, the connection to Rampart is the only reason Frank Lyga’s case is in the news still.

        1. The Rampart connection is interesting.

        2. No, just noting that Gaines was a crooked cop and Lyga was cleared due to a plausible self-defense claim, which ENB didn’t bother to include.

          I wondered what the relevance of a quote from a nobody in 2013 was. I assumed it had to be something other than just the plain old, ‘ENB hates yokels’.

          Keep up the good work Liz.

    2. I had not heard about Rampart until now, but reading about it has convinced me that the movie Training Day was based on a true story.

      1. Rampart was bad, but it also was “The LAPD has been doing this for decades and finally got caught.”

      2. The excellent television program The Shield was directly inspired by the Rampart scandal.

      3. Denzel grew his goatee to attempt to resemble Rafael Perez and the license plate on his Monte Carlo is ORP 967 – Officer Rafael Perez, born in 1967.

  6. uring the training seminar, Lyga also called Carl Douglas, the prominent civil-rights attorney who had represented Gaines in a civil suit against Lyga, a “little ewok”; described another officer as a “fruit”; and called a former female LAPD captain a “very cute little Hispanic lady who couldn’t find her ass with both of her hands” and had been “swapped around a bunch of times.”

    The LAPD actually fired him for being a PC-sucking lefty wimp.

    1. “Failure to use the phrase ‘spicy little taco’ when referring to a Hispanic female CO”

    2. Does that mean the Hispanic lady had a small ass, or a big one?

      1. He used a common shorthand. The full phrase is “couldn’t find their ass with both hands and a map.” It means she’s not very competent, and is possibly also stupid.

        I know this because my father was fond of this and similar colloquialisms, usually comparing brains to gasoline.

  7. I’m not sure what the point of this story is? Bad/Racist cop? Cities paying out on frivolous lawsuits? Abrasive idiots making off with a bit of the taxpayer purse? As to the alleged “racism”, I suppose you might be able to conjure up the idea that calling a black guy a “little ewok from Star Wars” (the real quote) is somehow racist/offensive as is I suppose calling another cop a “fruit” a marker for bigotry. However, I am still trying to figure out how calling another cop a “very cute little Hispanic lady who couldn’t find her ass with both of her hands” and had been “swapped around a bunch of times.” (meaning she’d been moved around the department because of incompetence) is racist at all….. And the cop he shot? A real piece of work he was too. Jeez, I expect better than these kind of crap stories from you guys.

    1. I think the point is that the LAPD is/was all kinds of messed up and they’re handling it the usual way: Handing out buckets of taxpayer dollars to make problems go away.

  8. it was ruled self-defense, as Gaines was following him while brandishing a .45

    Happy ending would have been them both dying.

    I once observed a guy in a dispute about a parking space. I decided he must be a cop, because no actual human could be that willfully stupid and belligerent unless he believed he was utterly immune to the consequences of his actions.

  9. While Lyga later said that by “them” he merely meant anyone threatening him, many interpreted him to have meant “a whole truckload” of black people

    I thought he meant cops.

  10. The LAPD Board of Rights eventually found Lyga guilty of misconduct and recommended that he be fired, but Lyga retired before the police chief could file his termination paperwork

    I wish I could retire before I was fired to get out of a murder charge.

  11. Oh, by the way, this is what “accountability” looks like when you’re an officer: A big phat payday.

  12. It’s only a few bad apples.

  13. It was bad apples. He wished there was a carload of bad apples he could have shot. ENB this article is terrible.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.