Sat, Jun

LAPD’s Lygagate: An Investigation into the Investigation of the Investigation


LA PROGRESSIVE-According to a November 18, 2013 memo to Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger from an unnamed officer, Detective Frank Lyga threatened to go to the media after he shot and killed Black police officer Kevin Gaines in 1997. 

Lyga told 37 people, including members of the LAPD, Glendale Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles Port Police, and Los Angeles Unified School Police, that then Chief Bernard Parks wanted to “send him to another unit” after the shooting to “hide him for awhile.” 

Lyga said that he was “pissed” and told his Captain at the time that “if Parks puts me there I’m going to the media and tell them that this was a sanctioned hit on Gaines by the LAPD.” 

The comments were made at a November 15, 2013 LAPD Detective School in-service training at the Police Academy prior to the start of the now infamous Lygagate audio recording. 

Detective Lyga followed those comments by laughing and saying “I basically blackmailed the Chief.” 

Lyga goes on to say that about three hours later he received a call from his Captain who said that Parks was going to let him stay in Narcotics and that Parks had a heart. 

According to the unnamed officer, Lyga spoke about the Gaines incident for one hour of which only 26 minutes was recorded. 

The memo to Paysinger also says that the officer didn’t want to participate in any complaint against Lyga for fear of more retaliation from the department and his own safety. 

The officer tells Chief Paysinger that “I told you then (1997) and I’m telling you now, Kevin Gaines murder was no accident.” 

This memo (LAPD-Serious-Misconduct-Issue) was sent to Asst. Chief Paysinger three days after the November 15th incident.   

In April, the audio was given to LAPD brass after Lyga had received no discipline for his comments.  After there was still no response internally to the memo or Lyga’s comments, on June 16 the story broke publicly.   

Only this week the instructor of the class who allowed Lyga to speak freely before the room of 37 was given a comment card, which is considered to be the most minimal discipline possible—basically a slap on the wrist. 

On Thursday, Detective Lyga was sent home and relieved of duty pending the outcome of an Internal Affairs investigation. 

Capt. Lillian Carranza, one of the people mentioned by Lyga in the recorded comments at the center of Lygagate, filed a slander suit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court. 

Capt. Lillian Carranza, one of the people mentioned by Lyga in the recorded comments at the center of Lygagate, filed a slander suit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court. 

Carranza alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress and false light invasion of privacy, is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. 

In the audio Lyga described Carranza as a “very cute Hispanic lady who couldn’t find her ass with both of her hands because someone else’s hands were always on it.” 

Lyga also said Carranza had been “swapped around a bunch of times.” 

In recounting the LAPD’s investigation into the 1997 shooting and the lawsuit the Gaines’ family filed, Lyga recalled a confrontation he had with attorney Carl Douglas, who helped represent Gaines’ family. 

Douglas, Lyga said, asked him if he regretted shooting Gaines. 

Lyga said he replied, “I said, no. I regret he was alone in the truck at the time. I could have killed a whole truckload of them and I would have been happily doing it—doing so.”

At the time of the shooting Lyga said that he didn’t know who Gaines was and that he had never met him before. 

However, in the audio, Lyga recalls an earlier encounter he had with a former trainee who happened to have Kevin Gaines in the car with him. Completely contradicting his earlier account of the 1997 incident. 

On KJLH-FM’s Front Page show Thursday, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said that no decision had been made as to whether or not the killing of police officer Kevin Gaines should be re-opened and investigated. 

There are calls for the offices of District Attorney Jackie Lacey and California Attorney General Kamala Harris to open an investigation into the investigation of the investigation. 

Law enforcement agencies including the LAPD are always encouraging us to say something if we see something. Someone saw something and they said something and sadly the LAPD did nothing–that is until it was breaking news.


(Jasmyne Cannick  is a critic and commentator based in Los Angeles who writes about the intersection of pop culture, race, class, and politics as played out in the African-American community. This column was posted most recently at LAProgressive.com.) 









Vol 12 Issue 53

Pub: Jul 1, 2014



Get The News In Your Email Inbox Mondays & Thursdays