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Criminal Justice

Mother Of LAPD Officer Fatally Injured In Training Exercise Has Filed Wrongful Death Claim

A picture of LAPD Officer Houston Tipping is set on the deck next to a flag-draped coffin and a man in uniform with his white-gloved hands crossed.
The memorial for Houston Tipping was held June 22, 2022, at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills
(Carolyn Cole
/
AP/Pool Los Angeles Times)
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The mother of a Los Angeles police officer who suffered fatal injuries in a training exercise last month has filed a wrongful death claim against the city.

Shirley Huffman alleges that her son, Houston Tipping, was fatally beaten in an LAPD "training exercise simulating a mob." Huffman claims her son was "repeatedly" and "severely" struck in the head and suffered "a broken neck."

Tipping died at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center three days after being injured in what LAPD officials called a fall while in a training exercise that involved "grappling with" a colleague at the department's academy in Elysian Park.

When the department released news of his death, LAPD Chief Michel Moore called him "a bright and uplifting young man with a full life in front of him."

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At Tuesday's police commission meeting, Moore disputed the allegations in Huffman's claim — which is often a precursor to a lawsuit.

"Officer Tipping did not sustain any laceration to the head, any cut or otherwise to his head, as a result of his fall to the ground when he and another officer during a training exercise fell to the ground. Officer Tipping was also not struck or beaten during this training session," Moore said. "He did grapple with another officer, and both fell to the ground, resulting in a catastrophic injury to his spinal cord."

Moore called what took place an "accident." He's vowing a "comprehensive" investigation will be done to understand how it happened and prevent something like this from happening again.

Huffman's attorney — Bradley Gage — had a much different characterization when the claim was filed last week.

"When you have that kind of a beating, it appears to me that it was not just negligent, but reckless and intentional," said Gage, who also said the family is seeking financial compensation for their loss.

Gage said he hopes this case will help change the LAPD training program, which he says has resulted in other injuries and fatalities.

Tipping's funeral was held last Wednesday at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, with a large police presence that included Moore. Mayor Eric Garcetti also attended. The wrongful death claim was filed on Friday.

In a news release about the ceremony, LAPD officials said he was "survived by his mother, Shirley; father, Richard; sister, Kathleen; brother, Tyler; grandfather, LeRoy; and grandmothers, Peggy, Kathleen and Lynn."

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Updated June 29, 2022 at 9:40 AM PDT
This story was updated with Chief Moore's comments at Tuesday's police commission meeting.