Autopsy for LAPD officer rules training death an accident

Officer Houston Tipping, 32, suffered a fatal spinal cord injury during a grappling exercise in May

By Sarah Calams

LOS ANGELES — Months after the training death of LAPD officer Houston Tipping, an autopsy has determined his cause of death as an accident.

Officer Tipping, 32, suffered a fatal spinal cord injury during a grappling exercise in May. Since his death, Tipping’s mother has filed a wrongful death claim against the city, alleging assault and battery and other civil rights violations in the training exercise she says was “meant to simulate a mob.” Last month, Tipping’s mother also claimed the department did not have a certified training instructor on site during the training exercise.

However, the autopsy report’s findings, according to The Los Angeles Times, contradicts allegations made by Tipping’s mother. A laceration to Tipping’s head, which was used as evidence to support his mother’s claim, found that injury – along with fractured ribs – were a result of efforts used to save his life. Deputy Medical Examiner Lawrence Nguyen said the laceration was from a clamp used during spinal surgery and the rib fractures resulted from efforts to resuscitate Tipping, according to the report.

Members of the department, who continue to remain anonymous, told the L.A. Times that Tipping’s death was an accident, but they also questioned if proper safety measures were in place.

For instance, they said Tipping wasn’t certified to be an instructor and the training room lacked sufficient padding, according to the report. Tipping was wearing padded protective gear when the incident occurred.

Since Tipping’s death, LAPD Chief Michel Moore has ordered an investigation by the department’s Office of Constitutional Policing and Policy, which would determine if the exercise adhered to statewide standards. The investigation remains ongoing. Tipping’s family is conducting their own investigation into the incident.

NEXT: Creating a culture of safety in your grappling program

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