Controversial Los Angeles Police Department Det. Frank Lyga, whose racially charged comments to a police training class prompted his bosses to send him home with pay, was recommended for termination by the LAPD's Board of Rights this week, a police official said.
The ball is now in the court of Chief Charlie Beck who could, if he so desires, fire Lyga any day now, said the official, who did not want his name published.
What did Lyga, a decorated and hard-hitting narcotics investigator known for his undercover work, do to anger department brass?
Where do we begin?
The Nov. 15 class featured Lyga at the helm as he tried to settle old scores, opened old wounds, and called out fellow cops he doesn't like.
A recording of his comments was first exposed by political consultant Jasmyne Cannick, who also broke the news today that Lyga was recommended for termination.
In 1997 he shot a fellow officer, African American Kevin Gaines, during what was described as a traffic dispute in North Hollywood. Lyga was undercover, and Gaines was off-duty. The detective said neither knew the other was a cop.
He told the training class, which included officers from other jurisdictions, including the CHP, “I could have killed a whole truckload of them” that day.
The remark was widely believed to mean that Lyga could have killed more black men.
Lyga also indicated during the class that, contrary to what he told investigators and journalists back then, he had met Gaines when he ran into him while both were on-duty sometime before the shooting. “That's how Gaines knew me,” he said.
But wait, there's more.
During that class he called a sergeant a “fruit,” and he described LAPD 77th Division Capt. Lillian L. Carranza as a “very cute little Hispanic lady who couldn't find her ass with both of her hands.”
“I heard she been swapped around a bunch of times,” he said.
That prompted Carranza to file a civil suit against Lyga.
The 1997 shooting helped to spark one of the LAPD's darkest hours, the Rampart Scandal, which inspired federal justice officials to put the department on a racially-sensitive consent decree for years.
Here's the Lyga-Rampart connection:
Central Rampart figure Rafael Perez first surfaced as a suspect when he was investigated for allegedly stealing eight pounds of cocaine out of a police evidence room, drugs that had been booked into evidence by one Det. Frank Lyga.
Speculation was that Perez, who ended up serving federal time for the theft, did it to retaliate for Lyga's shooting of a fellow black cop and friend, Kevin Gaines.
It's not clear exactly why the Board of Rights, which dishes out justice as a last disciplinary resort for allegations of on-the-job transgressions, moved to fire Lyga.
That's a personnel matter protected by privacy law. But you can take a guess.
We reached out to Lyga's attorney but did not hear back.