Long Beach Settles Suit Over Firefighter’s Punch for $250K

The City of Long Beach, California has agreed to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by a man who was punched by a firefighter following the shooting death of a fire captain.

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. A resident, 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 while in custody. Tsipursky and his wife filed a federal court lawsuit accusing the City of Long Beach, several John Doe police officers, and Robideaux 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.

A forensics examination determined that Tsipursky was shot by Kim, not the police officers. Prosecutors opted not to charge Robideaux for the punch. More on that decision here.

The city agreed to settle the lawsuit for $250,000 earlier this year. More on the story.

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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