A sheriff’s lieutenant is suing Los Angeles County, claiming his supervisors retaliated against him for trying to inform the public about shootings that occurred in and around Malibu Creek State Park before a man was killed there while camping with his daughters.
Lt. James Royal’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit states that he repeatedly advised his bosses to warn people about the shootings before Tristan Beaudette, 35, was killed at the park on June 22, 2018, while sleeping in a tent with his daughters, ages 2 and 4, the suit states.
The suit filed Wednesday seeks unspecified damages.
A sheriff’s department representative issued a statement saying the agency is aware of the suit.
“Based on the nature of pending litigation and ongoing investigations, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time,” according to the sheriff’s department. “We remain committed to our responsibility of ensuring the safety of Los Angeles County residents.”
Royal filed a damages claim against the county earlier this year.
According to the lawsuit, the first shooting occurred Nov. 3, 2016, in Tapia Park; the second on Nov. 9, 2016, in Malibu Creek State Park; and the third on Jan. 7, 2017, also in Malibu Creek State Park.
Royal, a 24-year sheriff’s department veteran, told his supervisors that the agency needed to warn the public about the initial shootings, the suit stated. However, no warning was issued and Royal’s bosses told him it was a state park problem and not theirs, according to the suit.
Four additional shootings occurred in the area, including one just four days before the Beaudette killing, when a Tesla car was struck by a bullet at Malibu Creek State Park, the suit states. Royal recommended to a gathering at the sheriff’s headquarters in downtown Los Angeles that a public safety statement be issued, but once again his suggestion was denied, the suit states.
After Beaudette was killed, Royal was instructed by his supervisors to state at a town hall meeting that the official position of the sheriff’s department was that the prior shootings were unrelated to his death, the suit states.
In retaliation for speaking out, Royal was transferred from the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station to the Santa Clarita station, a less prestigious assignment, and was stripped of his detective status, the suit states. He also was subjected to an Internal Affairs investigation under false circumstances that has damaged his reputation, the suit alleges.
On July 29, Erica Wu, Beaudette’s widow, and their daughters filed a wrongful-death suit against Los Angeles County, also alleging the sheriff’s department failed to warn the public about earlier shootings in the same general area.
Anthony Rauda, a vagrant who lived in the surrounding area, was arrested in October and charged in January with murder for the killing of Beaudette, along with 10 counts of attempted murder. Rauda is also charged with five counts of second-degree commercial burglary in the Calabasas area between July 2018 and October 2018.