$25-Million Claim Filed in Officer’s Slaying
The family of an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer who was shot to death by an undercover detective during a traffic dispute more than two months ago filed a $25-million claim against the city Thursday.
In the three-page claim, the family of Officer Kevin Gaines alleges that LAPD Det. Frank Lyga “wrongfully, negligently and with deliberate indifference of his action” killed Gaines on March 18 in Studio City.
The claim also contends that Lyga “was an aggressive and dangerous police officer” who, along with other officers, failed to summon immediate medical assistance for Gaines, contributing to his death, and conspired to “hide and distort the true facts concerning the incident.”
LAPD Lt. Anthony Alba declined comment on the claim, saying that the investigation into the shooting is continuing and that department officials have not yet seen the documents.
Ted Goldstein, a spokesman for the Los Angeles city attorney’s office, said the claim had not been received. He said the city has 45 days in which to review claims, which are generally precursors to civil lawsuits.
If the city rejects the claim or fails to respond within the time period, Gaines’ family is free to take the matter to court.
Lyga could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
According to police, Lyga shot the 31-year-old Gaines after a verbal confrontation during which Gaines pointed a handgun at the detective. Police sources have said the incident started with a simple stare between Lyga and Gaines as the two drove their vehicles on Cahuenga Boulevard, escalated into a verbal dispute with Gaines making threats to harm Lyga, and ended with Lyga shooting Gaines because he feared for his life.
Because Lyga was in undercover clothing and Gaines was off duty, neither one realized he was dealing with a fellow officer, police said.
The claim, filed by lawyer Carl E. Douglas, an associate of attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., alleges that Gaines did nothing to “justify the use of deadly force against him.”
According to the claim, Gaines’ wife and two daughters have suffered “physical, emotional and financial damages” as a result of the officer’s death. In addition, all three have “incurred medical expenses as a result of their need to employ psychiatrists and psychologists to examine, treat and care for them,” the claim states.