The mother of a Los Angeles police officer who suffered a fatal neck injury has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city claiming her son was beaten to death during a training exercise designed to simulate a mob attack.
Shirley Huffman, the mother of 32-year-old Houston Tipping, alleges wrongful death and other civil rights violations. Her attorney says they want full transparency, video of the training and will sue for monetary damages.
Bradley Gage is the attorney for Huffman. He said Tipping suffered multiple “terrible injuries” all over his body.
“It has to be a beating,” Gage told KTLA.
Gage has filed a governmental claim on behalf of Huffman that states Tipping is “not the first to be effectively murdered during training.” The family says they hope the lawsuit will bring an end to training exercise deaths.
Gage said Tipping’s family doesn’t believe the official story that his death was a freak accident during training. His injuries, they say, were too severe.
“One part of his head required staples,” Gage said. “He became a quadriplegic, he was unable to breathe on his own, his heart stopped.”
Tipping suffered the spinal cord injury May 26 while training at the Police Academy in Elysian Park. He died three days later.
The five-year veteran, described as a joyful spirit by his colleagues at Devonshire Division, was laid to rest last week. The department covered the costs of the funeral.
Richard Tipping, Houston’s father, spoke at the funeral. “I want to say publicly how much I love my son, how proud I am of him,” he said during the eulogy.
The LAPD has said Tipping was injured while grappling with another officer and described his death as tragic, but wouldn’t comment further due to pending litigation.
Retired LAPD Sgt. Chris Yzaguirre from the Metropolitan Division has more than 30 years experience and has trained thousands of people, including many in mobile field force training, the same type of training Tipping was leading before his untimely death.
“The training is usually confined to a specific environment that’s been approved by the city and the department,” Yzaguirre said. “It’s not unusual for officers to get injured. They can be running along a curb and roll an ankle, it could be something as simple as that.”
Yzaguirre says the goal of the training is to teach officers how to preserve First Amendment rights while protecting legal protesters from agitators — people he says are opportunists unrelated to the protest who come to cause chaos.
“It can become unsafe or chaotic. It’s actually there also, people don’t realize it, to protect the media, the press and people who are legally protesting,” Yzaguirre said.
Gage, the family lawyer, said there were 12 other officers at that training and they hope to have questions from them answered. He also said a female officer was also injured earlier in the same day.