"I think murder is what occurred." The family of a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer killed during a training exercise is suing the department for wrongful death. The officer, Houston Tipping, was 32 years old; he died during a Los Angeles Police Academy bicycle training exercise last May. The family's lawyer now says one of the other officers involved in the exercise was under investigation for sexual assault—and that Tipping had taken the incident report.
"I'm certainly alleging that at least one officer engaged in an abuse of force in order to try and scare or harm Officer Tipping in order to prevent him from investigating a claim of rape," the lawyer, Bradley Gage, said at a Monday press conference.
According to Gage, Tipping had been searching for a job outside of the LAPD at the time of his death. The training at which he sustained injuries "was supposed to be bicycle training," but somehow wound up entailing the "grappling exercise" that the LAPD says killed him.
Tipping's mother, Shirley Huffman, claims in her complaint that Tipping died during an exercise meant to "to simulate a mob" attack. The complaint alleges that Tipping's death was the product of "intentional acts."
But a county medical examiner ruled Tipping's death an accident, saying the suspicious injuries revealed in the autopsy were sustained during attempts to save his life.
This is not surprising because we already know that coroners and medical examiners - who work more closely with police departments than even prosecutors - undercount police killings by more than 50%. https://t.co/mLZYOvsP2j
— Rebecca Kavanagh (@DrRJKavanagh) October 4, 2022
"Officer Tipping did not sustain any laceration to the head" and "was also not struck or beaten during this training session," Police Chief Michel Moore told the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners in June. "He did grapple with another officer, and both fell to the ground, resulting in a catastrophic injury to his spinal cord."
Gage claims that Tipping wound up with three broken ribs, a lacerated liver, head injuries, and a broken neck. "His heart eventually stopped working because of his injuries" and "he was paralyzed….He had subdural hematomas at three places on the left side and three places on the right side. There is no way that grappling would have caused those injuries the way the LAPD portrayed it."
Gage also offered startling new allegations at yesterday's press conference.
"In July 2021, four police officers were involved in the sexual assault of a woman in the Los Angeles area," Gage said. "A report was taken by officer Tipping, and I've seen that report. And…the female victim claimed that she was raped by four different people, all LAPD officers."
The name of one of the officers accused of rape "seems to correlate with one of the officers that was at the bicycle training," said Gage, alleging that the officer in question was the one who hurt Tipping.
Gage could not confirm that the officer accused of rape was the officer directly engaged in the training exercise with Tipping. But he said "our investigation indicates that yes, it was." He added that the LAPD said no video footage of the training exercise exists, even though these sorts of trainings are often recorded.
In response to questions from a reporter, Gage said he thinks "murder is what occurred."
You can watch Gage's whole press conference here.
"The Onion's professional parodists were less than enthralled to be confronted with a legal ruling that fails to hold government actors accountable for jailing and prosecuting a would-be humorist simply for making fun of them."
????Excited to share that @TheOnion has filed the best amicus brief I've ever read in favor of @IJ's cert petition in Novak v. Parma. Novak challenges the 6th Cir's use of #QualifiedImmunity to deny #FreeSpeech protections to a parodist. 1/ @SCOTUSblog https://t.co/cdnh8FUAZj pic.twitter.com/xGAGUABNsU
— Patrick Jaicomo (@pjaicomo) October 3, 2022
From the brief:
Americans can be put in jail for poking fun at the government? This was a surprise to America's Finest News Source and an uncomfortable learning experience for its editorial team. Indeed, "Ohio Police Officers Arrest, Prosecute Man Who Made Fun of Them on Facebook" might sound like a headline ripped from the front pages of The Onion—albeit one that's considerably less amusing because its subjects are real. So, when The Onion learned about the Sixth Circuit's ruling in this case, it became justifiably concerned.
First, the obvious: The Onion's business model was threatened. This was only the latest occasion on which the absurdity of actual events managed to eclipse what
The Onion's staff could make up. Much more of this, and the front page of The Onion would be indistinguishable from The New York Times.
Second, The Onion regularly pokes its finger in the eyes of repressive and authoritarian regimes, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, and domestic presidential administrations. So The Onion's professional parodists were less than enthralled to be confronted with a legal ruling that fails to hold government actors accountable for jailing and prosecuting a would-be humorist simply for making fun of them.
Third, the Sixth Circuit's ruling imperils an ancient form of discourse. The court's decision suggests that parodists are in the clear only if they pop the balloon in advance by warning their audience that their parody is not true. But some forms of comedy don't work unless the comedian is able to tell the joke with a straight face. Parody is the quintessential example. Parodists intentionally inhabit the rhetorical form of their target in order to exaggerate or implode it—and by doing so demonstrate the target's illogic or absurdity.
Put simply, for parody to work, it has to plausibly mimic the original. The Sixth Circuit's decision in this case would condition the First Amendment's protection for parody upon a requirement that parodists explicitly say, up-front, that their work is nothing more than an elaborate fiction. But that would strip parody of the very thing that makes it function.
The U.S. Supreme Court won't hear challenges to bump stock bans. From the Associated Press:
The cases the justices declined to hear were an appeal from a Utah gun rights advocate and another brought by the gun rights group Gun Owners of America and others. As is typical the justices made no comments in declining to hear the cases and they were among many the court rejected Monday, the first day of the court's new term.
The Trump administration's ban on bump stocks took effect in 2019 and came about as a result of the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. The gunman, a 64-year-old retired postal service worker and high stakes gambler, used assault-style rifles to fire more than 1,000 rounds in 11 minutes into the crowd of 22,000 music fans. Most of the rifles were fitted with bump stock devices and high-capacity magazines.
The Supreme Court has also "declined to address Georgia laws that have kept third-party candidates off election ballots in the state for decades," reports Reason's Joe Lancaster*.
• The Supreme Court has announced nine new cases that it will hear:
NEW: SCOTUS agrees to take up NINE new cases, including Gonzalez v. Google, involving the scope of tech companies' immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The order list is not yet posted on the court's website, but here is a link: https://t.co/15KDnQUL2R
— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) October 3, 2022
• Reason's Scott Shackford has more details about the Section 230 case that SCOTUS is taking on.
• Doctors worry that in vitro fertilization will get swept up in abortion bans.
• Travis Cole, who is black, alleges that he was "fully restrained in a chair when a white sheriff's sergeant in Boulder County, Colorado, used a Taser on him," reports NBC. Cole has now filed a federal lawsuit. "The sergeant who deployed the stun gun, Christopher Mecca, resigned in the wake of the incident in lieu of termination and was arrested on misdemeanor counts of third-degree assault and official misconduct," NBC adds. "A jury convicted him in December 2021 and he was sentenced to probation."
• "The U.S. government imprisoned a former slave and pioneering civil rights activist named Callie House in 1917 on bogus federal mail fraud charges. A group of modern scholars and civil rights activists are now urging President Joe Biden to right that historical wrong by issuing a posthumous pardon to officially clear House's name," reports Reason's Damon Root.
*CORRECTION: This piece previously attributed this reporting to the wrong author.