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The LAPD Smears One of Its Own

The police versus Det. Frank Lyga.

by
Jack Dunphy

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July 3, 2014 - 12:23 am
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Call it a case of imprudent candor.  A Los Angeles Police Department detective today finds himself on the hot seat over some, shall we say, unfiltered comments he made during a training session at the Los Angeles police academy last November.  Detective Frank Lyga, a 28-year veteran of the LAPD, was addressing a group of officers attending in-service training when he veered from whatever the course syllabus might have been and into a tangent about a 1997 shooting that has, despite his many accomplishments as a detective, overshadowed his career.

I pause here for full disclosure (or as full as someone writing under a pseudonym dares): I have known Detective Lyga since before the 1997 shooting, though I do not know him well.  It has been some years since I’ve seen or spoken with him, but for some time in the 1990s I was assigned to a narcotics squad that often worked in conjunction with Lyga’s.  At that time I knew him to be an outstanding detective, among the most thorough and tenacious I’ve ever worked with.  He was tireless in pursuing leads into a drug conspiracy, arresting a street dealer and then developing information that led to his supplier, and then to the next guy up the chain, and so on.  He would nab the guy with the grams, then the guy with the ounces, and finally the guy with the kilos, often working overtime well past the point that his coworkers, myself included, were exhausted and ready to go home.  It seemed as though he worked late every night and was in court every morning.

And during that period, Det. Lyga worked with officers of both sexes and all ethnicities, and not once did I hear any cop of any description even hint that Lyga was anything less than professional in his relationships with his coworkers.  All he cared about was that you pulled your weight and could handle yourself when things got messy, as they often did.  He was precisely the kind of cop you wanted next to you as you went through the door on a search warrant.  In the years since, his reputation as a cop has remained unsullied, at least as far as his peers are concerned.

Many of his superiors, however, would no doubt offer a different opinion.  Which is just fine with Det. Lyga, as he has grown accustomed, as many of us have, to being disappointed by them.  But his cynicism about the LAPD management runs far deeper than that harbored by most of us, deeper even than my own.  But not without good reason, for in the aftermath of that 1997 shooting he saw just how far some in the LAPD were willing to go to pursue political expediency at the cost of one man’s reputation and career.  Det. Lyga survived the ordeal, but only because the facts of what occurred were overwhelmingly on his side.

I’ll explain.  The 1997 shooting is today being mischaracterized as having arisen from a road rage incident, with the implication being that Det. Lyga was somehow at least partly to blame.  Yes, Lyga and the man he shot were both driving in cars, but there had been no dispute about one driver cutting the other off or anything of the sort.

The shooting went down as follows: On the afternoon March 18, 1997, Det. Lyga was working as a plainclothes narcotics detective in Hollywood.  He and other members of his squad had followed a lead into the adjacent area of North Hollywood, and having finished their investigation were on their way back to Hollywood.  Det. Lyga was riding alone in an unmarked car, a Buick Regal.  Stopped in traffic at the busy intersection of Lankershim and Ventura Boulevards, Lyga saw a green Mitsubishi Montero come to a stop to his left.  Rap music was blaring from the Montero, and Lyga turned to see a black male behind the wheel.  The Montero driver seemed to be staring in Lyga’s direction and shaking his head, and Lyga assumed he was looking at something or someone on the sidewalk to his right.  He looked over and saw that the sidewalk was empty.  Turning back to the Montero, Lyga saw the driver still staring at him.

Lyga rolled down his driver’s side window.  “Can I help you?” he asked the man in the Montero.  “Roll that window up, you punk mother****er,” came the reply.  “Get out of my face or I’ll put a cap in your ass!”

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Top Rated Comments   
SO, is it any wonder that we don't trust the police, either as individuals or as an institution? Were those officers that manipulated witnesses ever held accountable with removal from the force and criminal charges, or are they still employed or collecting a pension?

Concerning Gaines' verbal and armed assault on Lyga: Clearly Gaines was unaware that he was dealing with an officer, but had the exchange been with a civilian, regardless of who had prevailed in the conflict, that civilian would be facing an unfair presumption that he had committed an offense against an officer - he would not be presumed to be acting in defense against an unlawful assault. Gaines had the presumption that he would get away with his act.

Hence our fear and distrust of police.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sounds very much like what's been happening in Detroit for decades.

I was born and grew up in L.A. (Los Feliz area). I left for O.C. In the early 70s and I'm glad I did.

My sincere sympathies for Det. Lyga. He is caught in a web of deceit, cronies, and bad actors.

Too bad he didn't get out of the LAPD when the getting was good. I knew of several Irvine cops who did and never looked back.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Note: "Jack Dunphy is the pseudonym of a police officer in Southern California."

And that, as they say, is the proof of the pudding. IF the story about Lyga is true, then Mr. Dunphy's need to post this story under a pseudonym is evidence that the LAPD is still driven by political corruption at all levels, and by people who are NOT motivated "to serve and protect".
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (15)
All Comments   (15)
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This story is a bunch of bull. We don't know or can verify they this Jack Dunphy is a cop, LAPD affiliated, and I know this story is not true even if it came from Lyga himself (which it did). There are no witnesses and Lyga had to come up with a good story to cover his ass, and he had the help of his coworkers in that narco unit. If Lyga is in an undercover capacity, why would he roll his window done to "instigate" a confrontation with an a laimed unknown? Lyga knew Gaines was a LAPD officer and provoked a trained individual to pull his gun, then use the extras to fabricate a reason to use deadly force. And now Jack Dunphy smells money. A scent that his writing sense says "I could spin Lyga's BS into another book and possible a block buster movie, and I can get Arnold Schwarzenegger to play Lyga the Terminator." What Dunphy (moniker) left out is Lyga said he was willing to say that Gaines' murder was a sanctioned LAPD hit. Ask the 30 plus witnesses who heard him in that taped rant. By the way, to the officer who taped Lyga telling on himself in a perceived "safe environment"-good job! You deceive a commendation for exposing a real cop killer. And I'm LAPD affiliated. 10-4!
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
Lack of deference to African Americans will spew you from the machine.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
They need no further tarnishing
they do not investigate
they do not answer calls
this is a department operating
on auto mode, in which the auto-dial
is useless.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
listened to the recording. Sounds like the kind of guy you want watching your back.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Avoiding details here, but I know Lyga personally. He's a hard ass but a good man, the kind you want out there on that wall. The entire episode with Gaines was just ridiculous, a confrontation with a wannabe gangster/cop. Seriously, just read the local papers around that time.

I really don't know why he's still working such a thankless job. Lyga is almost the Serpico of the LAPD.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Johnie Cochran looks bad,
Mayor Hahn looks bad,
the people screaming race look bad in light of the Ramparts case.

Getting angry just reading about it. it os almost 20 years old, but the
same jerks are with us race baiting.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Frank Lyga is a great cop whose tongue can be a bit too loose. No one who knows him would argue either point. Let him get back to work."

Consulting on a TV series based on his life as an LAPD Detective.


24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
SO, is it any wonder that we don't trust the police, either as individuals or as an institution? Were those officers that manipulated witnesses ever held accountable with removal from the force and criminal charges, or are they still employed or collecting a pension?

Concerning Gaines' verbal and armed assault on Lyga: Clearly Gaines was unaware that he was dealing with an officer, but had the exchange been with a civilian, regardless of who had prevailed in the conflict, that civilian would be facing an unfair presumption that he had committed an offense against an officer - he would not be presumed to be acting in defense against an unlawful assault. Gaines had the presumption that he would get away with his act.

Hence our fear and distrust of police.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
"had the exchange been with a civilian,"

The exchange was with a civilian.

Police officers are civilians, and the constant drumbeat to the contrary is part of the militarization of our civilian police departments, and is a threat to our liberty.


23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
What is the point of arguing the semantics? Especially in this case where we all know what he meant by "civilian"? Also note:

ci·vil·ian. səˈvilyən. noun
1. a person not in the armed services or the police force.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree with you, police are indeed civilians. But! Try to get the courts and the press to acknowledge that FACT.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sounds very much like what's been happening in Detroit for decades.

I was born and grew up in L.A. (Los Feliz area). I left for O.C. In the early 70s and I'm glad I did.

My sincere sympathies for Det. Lyga. He is caught in a web of deceit, cronies, and bad actors.

Too bad he didn't get out of the LAPD when the getting was good. I knew of several Irvine cops who did and never looked back.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Note: "Jack Dunphy is the pseudonym of a police officer in Southern California."

And that, as they say, is the proof of the pudding. IF the story about Lyga is true, then Mr. Dunphy's need to post this story under a pseudonym is evidence that the LAPD is still driven by political corruption at all levels, and by people who are NOT motivated "to serve and protect".
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
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