A former LAPD chief and current LA City Councilman was flabbergasted when he heard a 26-minute recording of an LAPD detective speaking vulgarly at the police academy and seemingly making light of a killing.
In the recording, Frank Lyga, who as an undercover narcotics detective in 1997 fatally shot a black LAPD officer who was off duty, can be heard saying, "I could have killed a whole truckload of them and would have happily done that."
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"You kept waiting for people to jump up and say, 'stop! this is not what we stand for," said Bernard Parks, who was the LAPD chief at the time of the shooting, reacting to hearing the recording. "Everything about it cries out for the investigation."
Lyga has apologized saying his comments were inappropriate and embarrassing.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, defended Lyga in a statement released Wednesday.
"When one listens to the tape in context, it is clear that Detective Lyga was not celebrating the killing of anybody," the statement said. "Although we do not support the denigration of any person, or group of persons, if there is a news interest here, it is far larger than improper remarks by a detective who 17 years later is still being asked about an experience he lived through that would deeply affect any of us."
Seventeen years ago, while working undercover, Lyga shot to death an off-duty officer, Kevin Gaines. The LAPD concluded it was a road-rage situation and that Gaines had threatened Lyga.
Under then-Chief Parks, the LAPD found the shooting justified. Lyga said Gaines had pointed a gun at him.
"Whether he was accurate, honest, that throws concerns," Parks said. "I don't know if it was enough to overturn anything, but I certainly think what he's done today can be dealt with."
Current Chief, Charlie Beck, said Lyga has been removed from field duty and his academy post while internal affairs investigates.
Civil rights attorney Connie Rice, who has been a longtime watchdog of the LAPD said the issue is how the department responds.
"In the old days they would wink," she said.
After years of suing LAPD, attorney Connie Rice has worked with the department to shed long- entrenched intolerance.
"In today's LAPD it's no longer condoned, and that's the difference," she said.
Some believe the case of the Gaines death should be reopened. The family has declined to comment.