Long Beach Firefighter Will Not Be Charged For Punching Innocent Suspect

A Long Beach, California firefighter who punched an elderly man he believed had just murdered one of his colleagues, will not be facing criminal charges. However, he will likely find himself a defendant in a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by the man and his wife.

The incident that precipitated the punch was an explosion, fire and shooting at the Covenant Manor Senior Housing Project, a high rise building in Long Beach. Thomas Kim, 77, was charged with causing the  June 25, 2018 explosion and fire, and then opening fire on first responders. Kim shot and killed Long Beach Fire Captain David Rosa.

In the confusion surrounding the incident, police initially suspected that another resident, Vladimir Tsipursky, 78, was responsible for the shooting. Tsipursky claims police shot him without warning and for no reason. He was transported to St. Mary Medical Center, the same hospital as Captain Rosa. While in the emergency department, FF Bradley Robideaux punched Tsipursky in the face, believing he was the one who shot Captain Rosa.

Kim died of natural causes last August while in custody. Last December, Tsipursky and his wife filed a federal court lawsuit accusing the City of Long Beach and several John Doe police officers with violating their civil rights, wrongful arrest, and using excessive force by first shooting Mr. Tsipursky and then punching him in the face while he was in custody and in the hospital.

It is unclear why the Tsipurskys believed a police officer threw the punch. Nevertheless, prosecutors have acknowledged that FF Robideaux threw the punch and last week decided he would not face criminal charges for doing so. The Long Beach Post quoted one of Tsipursky’s attorneys, Dale Galipo, as saying they are in the process of amending the lawsuit. As of today, the suit still states that a police officer threw the punch.

Here is more on the story.

Here is a copy of the Tsipurskys’s complaint:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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