Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore denied Tuesday that an officer who was fatally injured during a training exercise was beaten by fellow officers or suffered any lacerations to the head, as alleged in a damages claim filed against the city by the officer’s mother.
Officer Houston Ryan Tipping died May 29, three days after the training accident at the agency’s Elysian Park academy. Moore said previously that Tipping was working as a bike instructor in a scenario that involved grappling with another officer.
During the exercise, Tipping fell to the floor and suffered a spinal cord injury. Other officers present initiated CPR until Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics arrived, police said.
On Friday, Tipping’s mother, Shirley Huffman, filed a damages claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — alleging that her son was beaten by fellow officers in an exercise designed to “simulate a mob.” The claim alleges that Tipping was repeatedly struck in the head, causing him to bleed, and suffered multiple neck fractures that led to his death.
Speaking to the city Police Commission on Tuesday, Moore said the department does not generally comment on pending legal claims, but he felt the need to do so given the “significant media attention” the allegations have received.
“Officer Tipping did not sustain any laceration to the head, any cut or otherwise to his head, as a result of his fall to the ground when he and another officer during a training exercise fell to the ground,” Moore told the commission. “Officer Tipping was also not struck or beaten during this training session. He did grapple with another officer, and both fell to the ground, resulting in a catastrophic injury to his spinal cord.
“As a parent myself, I cannot imagine the pain and suffering, the grief that Officer Tipping’s mother and his entire family is going through. We also grieve in his tragic death and I’m committed to ensuring that the investigation is comprehensive in understanding how this accident occurred and what added safeguards or other steps can be taken to ensure that it’s never experienced again.”
Funeral services were held last Wednesday for Tipping at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. Moore was among those in attendance, along with Mayor Eric Garcetti and several members of the Police Commission.
The 32-year-old officer is survived by his parents, Richard and Shirley; his stepfather Bob; his siblings Kat and Tyler; and his girlfriend, Brittany.
The five-year department veteran worked out of the LAPD’s Devonshire Division.