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Family of woman allegedly killed by LAPD officer file lawsuit against the suspect and department

July 27, 2010 |  5:53 pm

The parents of a woman who prosecutors say was killed by a Los Angeles police officer this week filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the accused cop and the LAPD.

In the lawsuit filed in L.A County Superior Court, Nels and Loretta Rasmussen accuse the LAPD officers and supervisors investigating their daughter’s 1986 killing of deliberately ignoring clues that pointed to a fellow officer.

Sherri Rasmussen was beaten and shot to death in the Van Nuys townhouse she shared with her husband. The husband told detectives that his ex-girlfriend Stephanie Lazarus, an LAPD officer, had repeatedly confronted and threatened Sherri Rasmussen before the killing.

Lazarus, however, was not questioned or considered a suspect. 

Over the next two decades Lazarus rose to the rank of detective. The case was eventually reopened, and last year Lazarus was arrested in the killing based on DNA evidence. Lazarus has pleaded not guilty and is in custody awaiting trial. 

Current LAPD officials have dismissed the notion of a coverup by their predecessors, saying they believe the detectives were perhaps inept but not deliberate in overlooking Lazarus.  John Taylor, an attorney for the Rasmussen family, said that notion “Just doesn’t ring true.” 

Citing the ongoing criminal case and new civil case, Capt. Kevin McClure declined to comment. 

-- Joel Rubin