Former LA police chief’s wife sued for defamation
LAS VEGAS — Former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates was ordered Wednesday to pay $1.8 million to a woman who filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against him.
Gates was found to have violated a nondisclosure agreement by not telling her about his decision not to pursue criminal charges against his wife, Jennifer Gates, and by failing to report her suicide.
The settlement was reached after a lengthy trial and appeals process, including the one in L.A. Superior Court in which Gates had claimed he was “a victim of a lie” and was being forced to “fight for his life.”
Gates is accused of using a police-issued firearm to shoot Jennifer Gates on Jan. 1, 2013, in the driveway of her home in Lubbock.
The Lubbocks-based police department had said the woman was the driver of a vehicle that was stopped at the intersection of a busy road when Gates fired his service weapon, striking her twice in the back.
Gates, who is the oldest of five children, has not been charged with a crime.
“The department made a decision that it was better to go public with the fact that they had made that decision than to go back to the drawing board and not have the opportunity to take action against him,” said attorney William Roper, who represents Jennifer Gates.
“Daryl Gates had a right to know and he had a duty to inform the public.”
Roper said he believes Gates is being held accountable for his wife’s death and that he is “shocked and devastated” that his wife has not received justice.
Gates also was ordered to pay Jennifer Gates’s attorney, John D. Schilling, $1 million, according to the settlement agreement.
The lawsuit filed in Laxamal, Texas, alleges that Jennifer Gates had been living with her ex-husband and that she was living with the man in her garage at the time of the shooting.
She said she was the one who was struck by Gates’ gun as he chased her in his SUV, then drove off and stopped to help the victim, according the complaint.
A neighbor who lives next door said Jennifer Gates was “an absolute sweetheart.”
Jennifer Gates is survived by her husband and two children, ages 6 and 2.
The Associated Press does not typically name victims of wrongful death claims.
The AP has also reported that Jennifer was the victim of domestic violence and was “at the center of the police investigation that led to her husband’s arrest” and that the investigation involved a report from a Lubbons police officer.
The woman’s attorney said in a statement that her client’s family was “grateful” to have “reached an agreement that provides relief for the family of Jennifer Gates.”
Jennifer was working at a L.L. Bean restaurant in Lubbock when the shooting occurred.
Jennifer Gates suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died on Jan 13, 2013.
The investigation began shortly after the shooting and was led by a civilian review board.
The former chief has not yet been charged.
He resigned in July 2016 after being placed on paid administrative leave for the first two months of his term.
Gates had testified that he was not aware of the woman’s death until after the investigation was complete.
The retired police chief testified at the Lubbels City Council’s police oversight committee hearing that he did not know the woman had been killed until the report was finished.
The panel had already been briefed on the shooting when Gates was questioned about the incident and asked him to comment on it.
He said that he had no knowledge of Jennifer’s death because he was the only person who knew.
“It was a tragedy,” he said, adding that he has never discussed the case with anyone who had been directly involved.
“I’m the only one that knew,” he testified.
In January 2017, Gates resigned from his post.
A week later, L.D.T. said it was looking into the incident, but the city attorney’s office said it did not have enough evidence to proceed with criminal charges.
“We have concluded that there was no reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Gates violated any city or county policies in connection with the incident,” the office said in its statement.
“As the L.V.T.’s office has determined, no civil or criminal action has been filed and the case will be referred for review.”
In a statement to the AP, Jennifer’s mother, Kathleen Gates, said that she has “no doubt that her daughter would not have died had she been a woman.”
She said Jennifer was “very close to her brother, John Gates,” and that they were “very happy together.”
“I don’t know why they thought they could say she was dead, and they did,” she said.
“They were just so ignorant.”
Lubbicks Police Chief says no charges would be filed against chief over Jennifer Gates shooting article By KRIS WATTIE/AP