Frank Lyga, a veteran Los Angeles police detective took the floor at a training class for fellow officers and let loose an expletive-laden rant, says the Los Angeles Times. He recalled his fatal 1997 shooting of a fellow officer, an incident that sparked racial tensions within the department because Lyga is white and the slain officer was black. “I could have killed a whole truckload of them, and I would have been happy doing it,” Lyga recounted telling an attorney representing the officer’s family.
Police Chief Charlie Beck must choose whether to follow a disciplinary panel’s recommendation to fire the detective or reduce his punishment and let him keep his job. The decision presents the chief with one of his biggest tests since his August reappointment to a second five-year term and is likely to reignite criticism of how he handles officers’ discipline. Black civil rights advocates have called on Beck to fire Lyga, saying that the narcotics detective’s comments were racist and sexist and should not be tolerated. Lyga’s supporters say he is genuinely remorseful, and say Beck rejected another panel’s call to fire a well-connected officer who was caught uttering a racial slur. “This is a police chief’s nightmare,” said Merrick Bobb, a policing oversight expert. Lyga’s comments, he said, were particularly troubling because they were made in a teaching setting, where he was presented as a role model.