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Lawsuit: Long Beach police, not gunman accused of killing firefighter, shot civilian

A 78-year-old Long Beach resident who was shot June 25 while fleeing a fire believed to have been set by a suicidal man — who was also accused of shooting a fire captain to death that morning — has sued the city, alleging police officers not only wrongly fired upon him, but also assaulted him while he was in a hospital.

Vladimir Tsipursky filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Dec. 6, alleging false arrest, excessive force and battery, among other accusations. He, along with wife Inna Tsipursky, are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, plus attorneys fees.

The Police Department in a statement Tuesday night said evidence collected during the initial crime scene investigation was analyzed “and the results conclusively indicate that no officer-involved shooting occurred.”

“All statements and physical evidence gathered during this criminal investigation were provided to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for an independent review,” the statement continued.

The Tsipurskys are represented by the Law Offices of Dale K. Galipo of Woodland Hills and Baer Treger of Los Angeles.  The city had rejected a claim for damages on Oct. 2, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit attempts to flip the police narrative of how Tsipursky was shot.

A Long Beach police news release issued the day of the fire said officers were at the Covenant Manor apartment complex at 600 E. Fourth St. for traffic control when they learned that two firefighters and a civilian had been shot. Police then searched for the shooter and arrested Thomas Man Kim, 77, who they said set off an explosion at the building in a murder-suicide attempt because of a dispute with a neighbor. The civilian was not identified at the time.

Kim fired at firefighters because he “got scared,” a search warrant affidavit said.

A second news release said police had submitted a report to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office so it could consider charging Kim with fatally shooting Capt. David Rosa; and shooting and injuring firefighter Ernesto Rosa and the civilian; as well as arson.

But the lawsuit says that’s not what happened.

“Plaintiffs Vladimir Tsipursky and Inna Tsipursky were residents of Covenant Manor at the time of the incident and were evacuating the building due to the fire in their building. As plaintiffs … made their way down the stairs of the building, officers shot Vladimir Tsipursky, striking him in the abdomen.

“Vladimir Tsipursky did not pose an immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death to anyone at the time of the shooting,” the lawsuit said.

The Police Department ruled that the shooting was within policy, the lawsuit says.

The police statement, however, besides saying evidence shows there was no officer-involved shooting, noted that Kim had been charged with attempted murder “directly related to the shooting and wounding of Vladimir Tsipursky” as well as the attempted murder of the firefighter who was injured.

Vladimir Tsipursky suffered more once he was transported to St. Mary Medical Center, the lawsuit alleges: “While at the hospital and still in police custody, officers approached Vladimir Tsipursky and punched him in the face.”

The police statement said: “The Department takes all reports of potential criminal or administrative misconduct very seriously and thoroughly investigates all allegations. The Department requested the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department conduct the criminal investigation into the actions of police and fire personnel regarding the assault allegation made by Vladimir Tsipursky.”

Besides that investigation, the city has hired an outside law firm to “conduct an administrative investigation into the incident,” the police statement said.

Tsipursky survived the shooting despite initially being listed in critical condition.

Kim, 77, never made it to trial. He died Aug. 5 at County-USC Medical Center from pre-existing medical conditions that a relative said were diabetes and cancer.

Source: Orange County Register

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