Karen Kubly, a retired LAPD officer, says the controversy in the City Council… (Brian van der Brug, Los Angeles…)
The sister of a slain police officer whose badge has become an issue in a bruising political campaign criticized the Los Angeles Police Department on Monday, saying it should have pursued a criminal investigation of a man now running for City Council.
Karen Kubly, herself a retired LAPD officer, said the contest between businessman Rudy Martinez and Councilman Jose Huizar has stirred up painful memories about her brother.
In 1979, David Kubly took part in a high-speed chase that ended when the suspect's car crashed into a Pep Boys auto shop on Crenshaw Boulevard. Kubly was shot and killed by the suspect as he approached the car on foot.
The Times reported last week that the LAPD investigated Martinez in 2005 over an unauthorized badge found in his car that had Kubly's identification number. Investigators said they received implausible answers from Martinez, who was then a Police Department volunteer. He promptly resigned.
Karen Kubly said police should have gone further and opened a theft investigation. She also insisted that her brother's badge disappeared three decades ago, shortly after he was killed.
"There's something that's not right. There's this huge empty piece missing," Karen Kubly said.
LAPD Sgt. Mitzi Grasso said, contrary to a statement from a department official last week, that the badge found in Martinez' possession was a duplicate, not the original one issued to Kubly. As a result, he could not be investigated for theft, she said.
"There wasn't any evidence that he committed a crime," she said.
The LAPD gave a badge to Kubly's family upon his death. But by 1987 his sister began to question its authenticity. Karen Kubly said the badge bore the word "Policeman," while all other badges used the term "Police officer." The department then conducted an investigation, Grasso said, and concluded that the family had the original badge all along.
Grasso said the word "Policeman" had been added to elevate Kubly's status after his death. Karen Kubly said she still believes the original badge disappeared in 1979.
"They can say what they want. I'm not going to buy it and I know my mom's not going to buy it," she said. Because Martinez did not cooperate with the investigation, the LAPD still does not know if another officer gave him the duplicate, Grasso said. "I think we handled it to the best of our ability, given the limited information we had."
Martinez, who was 12 when David Kubly was killed, contends that he received the badge from the department several years ago to make miniature copies for a fundraiser.
Martinez, whose own brother was shot to death in 1987, wants to speak to Karen Kubly at some point to explain what happened, said campaign spokesman George Gonzalez. "He also understands the pain of losing a family member to violence and wants her to understand that this is not something he did on purpose," he said. "It was given to him by the LAPD."
Police voiced strong doubts about that explanation. After the investigation of Martinez was completed in 2005, LAPD brass arranged a small ceremony to turn the errant badge over to Kubly's family.
Karen Kubly said there would have been no need for such a ceremony if they had the original all along.