A U.S. District Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a tennis umpire against the Los Angeles Police Department and county coroner's office alleging she was falsely arrested and wrongfully accused of bludgeoning her husband to death with a coffee cup.
Lois Goodman claimed in the suit that her arrest as she went to officiate a tennis game at the U.S. Open in New York led her to suffer "public humiliation.”
The lawsuit followed a 2012 decision by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office to drop criminal charges against her after a crime scene expert and outside medical examiner advised prosecutors that forensic evidence did not show a crime had been committed.
LAPD officials and prosecutors had accused Goodman of attacking her husband of 49 years, Alan, in April 2012 at their Woodland Hills home and then going out for a manicure. Her attorneys argued that her husband actually fell down the stairs and struck his head on a coffee cup
U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt wrote in an opinion issued Thursday that prosecutors made the decision to charge Goodman independently and that investigators and medical examiners acted reasonably.
“The LAPD officers presented the deputy district attorney with a full copy of all five binders of the murder book containing the details of the homicide investigation,” he wrote. “Those binders contained substantial details sufficient to support a finding of probable cause” to arrest Goodman.
Goodman’s attorneys on Friday said they would appeal the ruling.
“The court totally ignored the horrific arrest in New York and the LAPD preening about it on 'Good Morning America,'” said Robert Sheahen, one of Goodman's lawyers.
Judge Kronstadt noted that prosecutors were the ones who ultimately made the decision to charge Goodman.
Initially, the LAPD had considered Alan Goodman's death on April 12, 2012, as an "accident/head injury" after Lois Goodman said she came home to find him dead in the bedroom. But about a week later, an autopsy by the coroner's office found 17 small cuts "inconsistent with a fall."
The lawsuit alleged that the coroner should have known those head injuries were not fatal. Goodman alleged in the suit that detectives became transfixed with what they perceived was a lack of emotion on her part after her husband's death.
None of the LAPD detectives involved in the probe were disciplined.
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