Police seek two suspects in series of armed street robberies in Los Angeles and Culver City
L.A. Now

Police failed to heed student's suicide threat, parents allege

A 17-year-old Huntington Beach high school senior who committed suicide could have been saved if police had been more aggressive after receiving a warning that the youth was planning to kill himself, the teen’s parents are alleging in a lawsuit.

Police failed to warn the family when they learned of an online posting by Matthew Cline in which he threatened to kill himself, according to a suit filed in Orange County Superior Court.

A varsity football player entering his senior year at Liberty Christian High School, Cline used a website and mobile app called iFunny, which typically features funny images, to warn of his death the day before he shot himself in the head last July, according to the suit.

"This will be my last post on iFunny as I will be committing suicide tonight," a portion of his post read, according to court documents.

Court records shows that Ana Gutierrez of Los Banos happened to see the post and found the youth’s Facebook page, which showed he lived in Huntington Beach. The woman said she then called the police and sent them a copy of the teen’s post.

Police, though, indicated they could not find the post on iFunny and also were unable to locate the youth’s Facebook account, according to a police incident report included in the complaint.

Police did attempt several times to call the telephone number listed in a database for a Matthew Cline in Huntington Beach, the incident report stated, but the family alleges in the complaint that no calls were made or received.

Officers did not visit the home listed for that person, citing an inability to determine if the address matched the person who made the post — "a blatant, bad-faith and intentional misrepresentation of fact," according to the complaint.

Police officials have not commented on the lawsuit.

Matthew took his life July 17 while his mother was at the gym, according to the documents. Each parent is suing the city individually, seeking damages for emotional distress caused to the family and the value of their son’s projected income over his lifetime.

"It's not the police's responsibility to keep up with postings, and they have no duty to act in terms of finding postings and then going out and warning about them," said Douglas Ames, the parents' lawyer. "But in this case, they were specifically notified about this boy's posting."


Pastor finds Bibles labeled as fiction in Costco store

UC Irvine student charged with carrying loaded gun on campus

Professor taken into custody in 1995 slaying of her alleged rapist

Emily Foxhall writes for Times Community News.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World