Patrick Healy, Troy McLaurin
A veteran Los Angeles Police Department officer has been reassigned after newly released audio tape implicated him speaking vulgar and seemingly callous about killing other people. Patrick Healy reports from downtown Los Angeles for the NBC4 News at 6 on Tuesday, June 17, 2014.
A veteran LAPD detective has acknowledged it is his voice on a leaked secret recording making potentially explosive statements about his 1997 involvement in the fatal shooting of a fellow officer as well as other harsh and possibly racist comments.
Chief Charlie Beck confirmed Tuesday a veteran narcotics detective was removed from field duty and his teaching position at the police academy suspended pending a complaint investigation.
Beck declined to name the officer, but Det. Frank Lyga confirmed to NBC4 it is his voice on the recording.
The recording was allegedly made during a Nov. 15 training session at the Police Academy in Elysian Park, unknown to Lyga.
Lyga can be heard talking about the 1997 fatal shooting of off-duty LAPD officer Kevin Gaines and making other possibly racist comments.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Lyga said he could not discuss the investigation, but said he made some inappropriate comments at an inappropriate time and place. He also said they were taken out of context.
He said he regrets making the comments, and any embarrassment he has caused himself or the department.
At the time of the 1997 fatal shooting, Lyga was working undercover and said the off-duty Gaines pulled alongside his car and flashed gang signs before pointing a gun at him.
"I could have killed a whole truckload of them and been happy doing it," his voice said on the new recording.
Retired LAPD Sgt. Cheryl Dorsey, who has been openly critical of the department, said his statement raises eyebrows.
“I wish I could have killed more of them?” she said. “What does that mean? Sounds racist to me.”
Dorsey said she first heard the recording posted on the Facebook page of Brian Bentley, a former LAPD officer who is now a department critic.
Bentley could not immediately be reached for comment.
Gaines’ shooting was one in a series of events that led to the discovery of widespread corruption in the department’s Rampart Division, including the implication of 70 officers in misconduct.
The ensuing scandal led to more than 100 overturned convictions and a lengthy federal oversight of the department.
The department exonerated Lyga in Gaines' shooting, but the city settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Gaines’ family for $250,000 before it went to trial. Lyga has said he felt that decision painted him in a negative light.
"We found Lyga's recollection was inconsistent, said Carl Douglas, an attorney who represented the Gaines family along with Johnnie Cochran. Douglas was also singled out for criticism on the tape.
"You know who Carl Douglas is? He's Johnnie Cochran's Ewok assistant,” the voice said on the recording.
Community activist Jasmyne Cannick, who was provided with a copy of the recording, said it shows a disturbing mindset.
"This is a man who clearly has problems with a lot of people,” she said. "Nobody in the black community ever believed Gaines chased after Frank Lyga to point a gun at him."
In the recording, Lyga complains that for political reasons, he was unfairly scapegoated as racist.
Copies of the audio were also sent to two members of the police commission, but they did not comment on the case during a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.