Tennis referee Lois Goodman, once accused of fatally bludgeoning her 80-year-old husband with a coffee cup, is suing the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County coroner, alleging false arrest and malicious prosecution.
The criminal charges against Goodman, 70, of Woodland Hills were dismissed last November after it was determined her DNA wasn’t on the alleged weapon, and prosecutors decided there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Goodman alleges she suffered “public humiliation after she was falsely arrested by LAPD detectives at the U.S. Open in New York as she was about to travel to the tour stadium in her tournament uniform.”
LAPD officials and prosecutors alleged Goodman attacked her husband of 49 years in April 2012 at their Woodland Hills home and then went out to a game and got a manicure. They said he climbed the stairs to their bed, where she later found him dead.
The LAPD declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing a policy of not discussing pending litigation. The investigation into the death of Alan Goodman remains open.
Goodman, who line refereed at the highest level in U.S. tennis, was initially taken to New York’s Rikers Island jail complex before spending two weeks in Los Angeles County’s Century Regional Detention Center.
She was eventually released on electronic monitoring before the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office dropped the charges.
“Mrs. Goodman was not only innocent, there was no crime. Her husband was not murdered. He fell down the stairs and hit his head on a coffee cup,” said one of her attorneys, Robert Sheahen.
“No sane detective could have concluded this was a homicide,” he continued. “The DNA was not on the coffee cup. There was no blood spatter on the walls.”
Sheahen added, “The LAPD detectives went on national TV to destroy this poor grandmother’s reputation and to see her languish in a Dickensian cell at Rikers Island. Now the LAPD will have to explain this in court.”
Goodman has since gotten her position back at the U.S. Tennis Assn. In the lawsuit, Goodman alleges the Police Department and others suggested she was having an affair as potential motivation when they knew it was untrue.
Initially, the LAPD had considered Goodman’s husband’s death on April 12 as “accident/head injury” after she came home to find him dead in the bedroom.
But on April 20, an autopsy by the coroner found 17 small cuts “inconsistent with a fall.” The lawsuit alleges the coroner should have known those head injuries were not fatal.
The suit alleges detectives became transfixed with Goodman’s perceived lack of emotion in the aftermath and conducted numerous searches of her home and interviews of her friends, family members and others.
The suit alleges detectives should have known Goodman was physically incapable of hitting her husband and then carrying his 170-pound body up the stairs.
They also should have known, the suit alleges, that there was no blood spatter on the landing at the top of the stairs that supported their theory she hit her husband with the cup at that location.
The suit names several LAPD officials, including Capt. Kris Pitcher, Dets. David Peteque, Jeffrey Briscoe and Nick Pikor and medical examiner Yulai Wang.
“There are whispers and pointed fingers wherever she goes,” the suit alleges. “Her professional reputation has suffered immeasurably.”