A judge put on hold a sheriff’s lieutenant’s suit against Los Angeles County in which he alleges his supervisors retaliated against him for trying to inform the public about shootings in and around Malibu Creek State Park before a man was killed there while camping with his daughters.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elaine Lu on Thursday stayed Lt. James Royal’s Los Angeles Superior Court suit until criminal proceedings are over for Anthony Rauda, a 44-year-old transient who lived in the surrounding area and was arrested in October 2018. He is awaiting trial on a murder charge in Tristan Beaudette’s death and also faces 10 counts of attempted murder — Beaudette’s daughters are among the named victims — along with five counts of second-degree commercial burglary involving a series of crimes dating back three years.
Rauda was initially charged in January 2019 with the crimes, then subsequently indicted in October 2019 by a Los Angeles County grand jury. He has pleaded not guilty
Lu set a status conference in the civil case for April 8, 2021
Lawyers for the county sought the delay, stating in their court papers that “allowing this civil action to proceed while the criminal proceeding is pending will cause significant burden to the county and District Attorney’s Office and will jeopardize the outcome of the criminal case.”
In a sworn declaration in support of staying the civil case, Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum said the criminal trial is set for July 22 and that Rauda is demanding a speedy trial.
“Even if continued, the trial will likely start within the next six months,” Hum said.
If the civil case is not delayed, any new discovery generated by the civil case, including depositions, would have to be immediately turned over to prosecutors, according to Hum.
“So, any new discovery will either cause a delay in the trial or potentially result in exclusion of evidence in the criminal case,” Hum said. “Thus, any new evidence would create a significant burden on both the defendant, Anthony Rauda, and the (prosecution).
Hum also said Rauda has been combative in court and once assaulted sheriff’s deputies in anger over a judge’s refusal to let him act as his own attorney. More delays in the case would “further antagonize him, endangering not only the deputies in court, but also defense counsel and other court staff.”
In their court papers, Royal’s lawyers argued the LASD has not elaborated on what discovery in the civil case would be relevant to the criminal matter and thus need to be turned over to prosecutors.
“Simply put, the department has not met its burden of showing good cause for a stay of this civil action,” Royal’s attorneys stated in their court papers.
Royal repeatedly advised his bosses to warn people about the shootings before Beaudette, 35, was killed at the park on June 22, 2018, while sleeping in a tent with his daughters, ages 2 and 4, his suit states. 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 veteran of more than 20 years with the LASD, 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 that 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 stripped of his detective status, the suit states. He also was subjected to an Internal Affairs investigation under false circumstances, damaging his reputation, the suit alleges.
In June, former Sheriff’s Sgt. Tui Wright reached a proposed settlement of a similar suit he filed against Los Angeles County in Los Angeles Superior Court last November. Wright’s lawyer, Bradley Gage, said previously that the accord is subject to approval by the Board of Supervisors.
In July 2019, 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.
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