Pro Tennis Referee Sues LAPD, Coroner’s Office Over Murder Arrest
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A local tennis umpire who was once charged with murdering her husband is now suing the L.A. Police Department, four of its officers and the L.A. County Coroner’s Office for reportedly creating a “media circus” to bolster a case against her.
U.S. Open tennis referee Lois Goodman filed a 21-page complaint in L.A. Federal Court Friday alleging false arrest, civil rights violations, malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She is seeking unspecified damages.
Goodman was charged with her 80-year-old husband’s death after his body was found in April 2012 at their Woodland Hills home. She has since been cleared of all charges.
“A shattered coffee mug was on the landing of the stairway leading upstairs to the bedroom and there was a trail of blood on the banister of the stairway,” according to the lawsuit. “There was a blood smear near the floor of the landing but there was no spatter of blood on the walls near the landing. There was some blood in the kitchen, as well.”
Goodman told responding police and fire personnel that she believed he had fallen, then made his way up to the bedroom.
“At the time of his death, Mr. Goodman was legally blind and had colon cancer,” according to the lawsuit. “He had a long history of high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and insulin-dependent diabetes. He also had a history of failing to take his medication.”
But days later, the case turned into a murder investigation when a coroner’s investigator said Goodman’s injuries were consistent with being struck with a sharp object. Investigators connected that report to the shattered coffee mug found at the scene.
The murder investigation went forward even though police “knew or should have known that it was physically impossible for Mrs. Goodman to kill her husband with a coffee mug. They knew, in fact, that he was not killed with a coffee mug, and they knew that it would have been physically impossible for Mrs. Goodman to have carried her 180-pound husband from the stairway to their bedroom,” according to the lawsuit.
LAPD detectives “fixated on what they considered to be Mrs. Goodman’s lack of emotional display over the death of her 80-year-old husband,” the suit contends, and police “repeatedly noted in their interview reports that Mrs. Goodman’s `makeup was not running.”‘
In August 2012, Goodman was arrested in New York the night before she was to referee a U.S. Open tournament and taken back to L.A., where she was charged with first-degree murder.
A day later, LAPD Detective David Peteque, who is named as a defendant in the suit, appeared on “Good Morning America” and gave alleged details of the case, plaintiff’s attorney Robert Sheahen said.
“He told a national television audience that Mr. Goodman did not fall down the stairs, but was a victim of homicide and that Mrs. Goodman was in jail for committing a homicide,” the lawsuit states.
“It was outrageous,” Sheahen said. “The LAPD orchestrated a media circus around this case.”
LAPD investigators abruptly dropped the case against Goodman in December 2012.
Goodman’s suit states she was suspended from work until after the charges were dismissed. She claims her career suffered: she received assignments that ranked lower than those she had previously been given and her professional relationships became uncomfortable.
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