The attorneys for the family of a Los Angeles Police Department officer who died during a training exercise earlier this year say he was investigating another officer involved in the exercise for gang rape.
Houston Tipping, 32, died after he was injured by the officer under investigation during a bicycle training exercise in May, a family attorney said Monday. Tipping had taken the incident report of the officer’s alleged sexual assault.
Tipping’s family is suing the police department for wrongful death.
“I’m certainly alleging that at least one officer engaged in an abuse of force in order to try and scare or harm Officer Tipping in order to prevent him from investigating a claim of rape,” attorney Bradley Gage said at a press conference.
The alleged sexual assault, which involved four LAPD officers, occurred in July 2021. Gage said one of the officers participated in the training exercise the day of Tipping’s death.
The training “was supposed to be bicycle training,” but somehow ended up involving a “grappling exercise” that the LAPD said killed Tipping, Gage said.
Medical records show that Tipping was “possibly dropped” on his head during the exercise, but Gage says the deceased officer was beaten to death by other officers in the training drill.
A county medical examiner ruled Tipping’s death an accident and that his injuries were sustained during efforts to save his life.
“Officer Tipping did not sustain any laceration to the head” and “was also not struck or beaten during this training session,” Police Chief Michel Moore told the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners in June. “He did grapple with another officer, and both fell to the ground, resulting in a catastrophic injury to his spinal cord.”
But Tipping’s mother, Shirley Huffman, claims in her complaint that her son died during an exercise designed to “simulate a mob” attack, adding that Tipping’s death was the result of “intentional acts.”
Gage said Tipping suffered three broken ribs, a lacerated liver, head injuries and a broken neck. He said the officer’s heart eventually stopped working due to his injuries and was paralyzed.
“He had subdural hematomas at three places on the left side and three places on the right side. There is no way that grappling would have caused those injuries the way the LAPD portrayed it,” the attorney said.
He also addressed allegations of the alleged 2021 sexual assault.
“In July 2021, four police officers were involved in the sexual assault of a woman in the Los Angeles area,” Gage said. “A report was taken by officer Tipping, and I’ve seen that report … the female victim claimed that she was raped by four different people, all LAPD officers.”
Gage said the identity of one of the officers accused of rape appears to “correlate with one of the officers that was at the bicycle training.” He claims this officer is responsible for hurting Tipping.
He could not confirm that the accused officer was the one directly engaged in the training exercise with Tipping, but Gage said, “our investigation indicates that yes, it was.” Gage told reporters he believes “murder is what occurred.”
The attorney said earlier on Monday that he hopes to reveal new videos of the training Tipping went through.
LAPD says Tipping was acting as a bike instructor at the police academy and was participating in a training exercise involving grappling with another officer. Tipping had fallen during the exercise, the department said, leading to a spinal cord injury.
Officers at the scene then gave Tipping CPR and called Los Angeles Fire Department rescue crews, according to LAPD. Tipping was transported to Los Angeles County USC Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries.