Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Graig Graziosi

Police chief helped compile ‘independent’ review into death of officer probing LAPD rape allegations: lawyer

2022 Los Angeles Times

The attorney representing the family of an LAPD officer they claim was killed for investigating an alleged gang rape committed by his colleagues says the department’s “independent review” of the circumstances leading to the man’s death was anything but “independent.”

Brad Gage, the attorney representing the family of Houston Tipping, who died in what the LAPD is calling a training accident, said the findings of the independent review are suspicious due to the involvement of LAPD Police Chief Michael Moore in its creation.

The independent review, compiled by LAPD Director of Constitutional Policing and Policy, Lizbeth Rhodes, found that Mr Tipping was critically injured during a grappling incident with another police officer. The injury led to his death.

Per Ms Rhodes, Mr Tipping was roleplaying an aggressive suspect confronting an LAPD bike officer when the accident allegedly occurred.

"Officer Tipping then lifted the officer, the student officer, from the ground and the student officer's arm went around Officer Tipping's neck, wrapping toward the front of Officer Tipping's cheek and throat. As the two fell to the floor Officer Tipping's neck remained in that grasp," Ms Rhodes said in the report.

The incident occurred on 26 May. Mr Tipping died three days later from his injuries.

She also said the incident occurred only between Mr Tipping and the student officer, and that the initial reports of a "mob attack" were incorrect.

"... This was not a mob attack, as has been alleged, rather (a one-on-one scenario) which was Officer Tipping playing the role as a suspect in order to help officers learn how to deal with that one individual," she said in the report.

Mr Gage claims the revelation that Mr Moore was directly involved in the creation of the report calls its veracity into question. The attorney said he was conducting a deposition of Mr Moore in another case he is working in which an LAPD police captain is suing the department, and learned during that exchange that Mr Moore speaks with Ms Rhodes daily and that he helped to compile the report on Mr Tipping.

"You're asking the police department, which is investigating itself, if it did anything wrong," Mr Gage told The Independent this week. "The result is predictable and the conclusion foregone."

The Independent has reached out to the LAPD for comment.

Mr Gage also pointed to a possible conflict of interests in the coroner's report. The attending physician who ruled Mr Tipping's death resulted from a "fall from height" is Dr Kenji Inaba, who has also served as a reserve LAPD officer.

In a story posted to the "My USC Story" website, Mr Inaba is profiled for his volunteer work with the police department.

“It’s very important for every person to volunteer. My parents instilled that in me from when I was a little kid,” Dr Inaba said. “Becoming a reserve officer seemed like a great way to give what knowledge and skills I have as a surgeon back to the community.”

Dr Inaba was volunteering as a reserve LAPD officer as recently as May 2021. The Independent has contacted Dr Inaba for comment and to determine if he was still volunteering with the department when he examined Mr Tipping.

The coroner's report also contains what appears to be an inconsistency with the LAPD's internal review. Dr Inaba ruled that Mr Tipping died from a "fall from height," while the LAPD's review suggested it was an officer's arm wrapped around his neck during the fall that caused the critical injury that led to his death.

The Independent has asked Dr Inaba and the LAPD for clarification.

Per Mr Gage, Mr Tipping went into the training session with injuries from previous exercises. The attorney said he spoke to a retired police officer on the condition of anonymity who claimed he spoke to Mr Tipping prior to the injury that killed him.

Mr Gage said the retired officer and Mr Tipping spoke "directly or indirectly" during an earlier day of the five day training session. The retired officer learned that Mr Tipping had been kicked during a session and believed his ribs had been broken. According to retired officer, Mr Tipping referred to the training as "Fight Club."

Mr Tipping's family and Mr Gage believe the officer was targeted for investigating an alleged gang rape in which the victim accused four LAPD officers of attacking her. Mr Gage said the victim identified the men attacking her as LAPD officers because they were wearing LAPD uniforms and name badges. One of the officers she named as an attacker was reportedly present during the training session on the day Mr Tipping was critically injured.

Mr Gage said he could not confirm that information because the LAPD is withholding the names of the other officers involved in the training.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.