A veteran Los Angeles Police detective who lost his job after making racially charged remarks during a training session was reported Tuesday to have filed a federal lawsuit against the city, alleging he was discriminated against because he is a “white police officer who was wrongfully perceived to be racist.”
In the lawsuit, Frank Lyga alleged his civil rights were violated when LAPD officials wrongfully decided to fire him because of his race, the Los Angeles Times reported. He alleged the action was “motivated by political pressure” from the African American community.
Lyga, who worked for the LAPD for 28 years and is seeking reinstatement, said in his lawsuit filed last week that he decided to retire early rather than be fired. There was no immediate comment from the LAPD.
Lyga drew headlines last year after an audio recording surfaced of remarks he made during a question-and-answer session that followed a November 2013 training seminar about search warrants. He delivered an expletive-laden rant, calling a prominent black civil rights attorney an “ewok,” saying a female LAPD captain had been “swapped around a bunch of times” and describing a lieutenant as a “moron.”
Lyga also allegedly discussed his fatal 1997 shooting of a fellow officer, Kevin Gaines. Gaines was off-duty and was involved in a traffic dispute with Lyga, who was working undercover at the time. The incident sparked tensions within the LAPD because Lyga is white and Gaines was black.
At the end of his lecture, Lyga recalled a confrontation with Carl Douglas, the attorney representing Gaines’ family and the same man Lyga called an “ewok.” Douglas asked Lyga if he had any regrets about the shooting.
He replied, “No, I regret he was alone in the truck at the time… I could have killed a whole truckload of them and I would have been happy doing it.” After the secretly recorded audio surfaced, Lyga admitted some of his remarks were inappropriate and apologized.
But an LAPD disciplinary panel recommended that police Chief Chief Charlie Beck fire Lyga, saying that although he had not been accused of racism, his speech had “an underlying racial tone.”
In his lawsuit, Lyga alleged he was told in another letter that he posed a “significant liability” to the LAPD, particularly if he were involved in another shooting of someone who was black, The Times reported.
—City News Service