The Los Angeles coroner said the officer who died in late May while training at the Los Angeles Police Academy was an accident.
According to the Coroner’s Office, 32-year-old LAPD officer Houston Tipping died of a spinal cord injury after a wrestling exercise. During the exercise, Tipping — and the student — fell to the ground on his neck, breaking part of his vertebrae, eventually leading to his death. The officer also suffered several other injuries.
In addition, deputy medical researcher Dr. Lawrence Nguyen in his report that he found several other medical injuries during the autopsy, including a laceration to his left scalp from a C-clamp placement during spinal surgery and broken ribs that appeared to be from CPR. with a LUCAS device.
“A LUCAS device provides mechanical chest compressions and is known to cause rib fractures and liver tears,” Nguyen wrote.
Nguyen also added that the office “carefully considered and weighed up” the manner of death.
“The manner of death has been carefully considered and balanced between manslaughter and accident,” he wrote. “While ‘at the hands of another’ deaths are generally considered homicides, there are exceptions that are considered accidents.”
Nguyen mentioned the examples of a boxing death or a broken neck from a tackle while playing football.
“These deaths occur during organized sports or organized exercise where the participants agree to potentially harmful acts and accept inherent risks,” he wrote. “That’s why I considered the manner of death in this case an accident.”
The medical record provided to the coroner said Tip “may have fallen on his head.” Tipping “immediately went slack” according to a coroner’s investigator.
According to a statement from a sergeant, Tipping and the student performed a “face to face bear hug” exercise. They then fell to the floor, “which was a hard mat with not much padding.” A tip reportedly fell first on his “top right back.”
“It’s also possible that the student ended up on top of the deceased,” officials wrote in the investigator’s story.
The sergeant said Tipping could be heard breathing for a few seconds before reaching for air. Shortly afterwards he stopped breathing,
The sergeant also said CPR was being performed until paramedics arrived. Paramedics continued CPR when they arrived and Tipping was resuscitated after three minutes.
Crews took him to LAC/USC Medical Center where he spent the next two days as doctors performed multiple CT scans and fused his spine. Despite the life-saving measures doctors took, Tipping developed an anoxic brain injury, in which brain cells are killed by lack of oxygen. He was pronounced brain dead on May 28.
Tipping’s mother contradicted officials’ events, saying: