Anthony Soderberg was wounded, no longer armed and positioned precariously on a steep embankment when Los Angeles Police Lt. Ruben Lopez radioed to the surrounding SWAT team that the mentally ill man they’d just flushed from a nearby home remained a threat and must not be allowed to leave.
SWAT Sgt. Tim Colomey, a crisis negotiator standing next to Lopez in the command center, was stunned — interpreting the remark, as he knew other officers would, as a kill order.
“What the f— did you just say?” Colomey asked Lopez, just before the barrage of gunfire erupted.
“It was like pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,” Colomey recalled. Officers outside “just started blasting away.”
In a frank and far-ranging legal deposition in March, the former SWAT sergeant offered extensive new details in support of allegations he first made in 2020 that the LAPD’s most elite tactical unit — a model for similar units across the country — is deeply corrupt and controlled by a violent inner circle known as the “SWAT Mafia.”
The 27-year LAPD veteran, who speaks quickly in a thick Boston accent, provided the deposition under oath as part of a lawsuit against the department and the city, in which he alleges he was transferred out of SWAT as retaliation for whistleblowing about the violence. He is seeking unspecified damages.
The city has denied Colomey’s claims in court; Lopez declined to comment on the allegations.
It is the SWAT team’s job to confront the most dangerous situations, and its members are specifically trained to end threats to the community. They are equipped and armed accordingly — and, department officials have said, rarely use force.
The Los Angeles Police Department as a whole has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, including over its multibillion-dollar budget and its use of force. Colomey’s allegations and other recent scandals involving SWAT members have intensified the spotlight on the team.
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