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Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Officer's Training Death

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by the mother of an LAPD officer who died after he was seriously injured during a role-playing exercise at the LAPD academy.

The suit, which expands on an initial legal claim filed earlier this year, said there are indications Officer Houston Tipping was intentionally hurt by at least one other officer in the class, and it disputed official findings that Tipping’s injuries were the result of an unforseeable accident.

“I believe that what happened to him was intentionally done to him,” attorney Brad Gage told reporters Thursday at a news conference.

The suit was filed on behalf of Tipping’s mother, Shirley Huffman. A similar wrongful death claim was filed by another law firm.

Gage said he’s now confirmed that the officer who caused Tipping’s injury — was the same officer who a woman accused of sexual assault — in a report that Tipping completed while Tipping was working at the Devonshire station.

Gage suggested that report could have motivated another officer to want to retaliate against Tipping, and the grappling-type exercise in the class might have been a convenient opportunity.

“Here, you had a good officer, who appears to have been retaliated against, and paid the ultimate price, for trying to do the right thing,” he said.

Additionally, the suit says that the LAPD’s statements, that Tipping’s broken ribs were caused by a medical device, were contradicted by newly-obtained medical records, which showed that device was present during treatment but was never used.

Tipping was hurt May 26, 2022 when LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the other officer, who’s identity has been withheld by the Department, wrapped his arm around Tipping’s neck and the two fell to the floor of a classroom.

“And in falling, and coming into contact with the ground, that’s where the injury occurred,” Moore told the Police Commission during a public review of the death in October.

Tipping died a week later at a hospital.

The LA County Coroner’s office deemed the death accidental, and said Tipping suffered a, “cervical spinal cord injury during law enforcement training exercise.”

The wrongful death suit said the injuries to Tipping were far more extensive than would be expected in a fall to the floor during a grappling scenario, and included broken vertebrae and broken ribs.

“It’s the magnitude of injuries, you do not normally have this many injuries,” Gage said. “There is no other logical explanation can explain this, other than, an intentional act.”

The LAPD’s internal investigation of the incident, headed by the Department’s Constitutional Policing Advisor, Lizabeth Rhodes, said the injury and death were accidental, with no indications of misconduct on the part of the other officers who were there.

“There are a number of allegations for which we have not seen any evidence out there,” she said.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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