Controversial Detective Frank Lyga Fired by LAPD Chief, His Lawyer Says
Gaines, left, and Lyga, via Jasmyne Cannick/YouTube
Controversial cop Frank Lyga was terminated by Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, the detective's attorney, Ira Salzman, told L.A. Weekly today.
Lyga was sent home with pay in June after a recording of comments he made to an ongoing-training course for law enforcement was brought to the media's attention by political consultant Jasmyne Cannick. The white detective, who justifiably* shot a black officer in 1997 while both were out of uniform, said, "I could have killed a whole truckload of them."
During the November class at the Police Academy, Lyga also called a black civil rights attorney an Ewok, described a fellow cop as a "fruit," and suggested that an LAPD captain slept around.
The investigator's fatal shooting of Officer Kevin Gaines, which precipitated one of the LAPDs darkest hours, the Rampart Scandal, was found by the department to have been justified.
Lyga was working narcotics undercover when he said he got into a traffic dispute with an off-duty Gaines in North Hollywood. He said Gaines pulled out a gun and that he feared for his life. Later coverage of the confrontation painted Gaines as an officer who associated with criminal rap mogul Suge Knight.
The detective said neither man knew the other was a cop. However, Lyga revealed on the recording that the two had allegedly met previously while on-duty. "That's how Gaines knew me," he said.
*The revelation added fuel to skepticism among some African American officers and LAPD critics who questioned Lyga's story from the beginning.
And the racially charged comments caught on tape have also helped to justify the belief among some in the black community that Lyga is no friend of diversity.
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Salzman has said the remarks were taken out of context, particular Lyga's assertion about "a whole truckload of them." What he meant was that he would have defended himself against any and all mortal threats, the lawyer has said.
He told us today that Beck's signing of termination papers was "a most unusual move" because the process was so swift.
The papers were "walked" over to the chiefs office hours after a Board of Rights conference call that confirmed the body's recommendation to fire, Salzman said.
"They have never moved this fast," he said. "Normally the chief allows some time to allow the defendant to do a written appeal. That wasn't afforded Lyga."
All options, including a potential lawsuit against the city, are on the table, Salzman said. But for now, "I want to appeal to chief's sense of justice to allow an appeal," he said.
[Update at 2:38 p.m.]: An LAPD spokesman told us the Police Commission received the final termination paperwork this afternoon and that "Lyga is no longer in LAPD employee."
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