Parents can't sue LAPD over murder probe

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The parents of a woman murdered by a Los Angeles police officer have lost their last attempt to sue the department over the way it handled the high-profile investigation.

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to take up the appeal of Nels and Loretta Rasmussen, upholding a lower court’s ruling that the couple waited too long to file the lawsuit.

The Rasmussens sued the Los Angeles Police Department in 2010, 14 years after their daughter was found dead in the Van Nuys townhouse she shared with her husband.

The day after their daughter was found murdered, her parents told investigators they suspected a jealous Los Angeles Police Department officer on the losing end of a love triangle.

LAPD investigators rebuffed the parents and concentrated their efforts on two supposed robbers. That theory was debunked in 2005 when a bite mark was discovered on the victim and the DNA left behind was found to have come from a woman.

In 2009, LAPD detective Stephanie Lazarus was arrested for the murder of Sherri Rasmussen when the DNA found at the crime scene matched hers. The Rasmussens sued the LAPD, alleging that its officers handling of the case caused them emotional distress, especially investigators’ refusal to take serious their claims about Lazurus.

Lazurus and John Ruetten had dated before he marred Sherri Rasmussen three months before her death.

Investigators initially suspected a robber had beat and shot Sherri Rasmussen to death, even though the victims’ parents badgered police, telling them that Lazurus had stalked their daughter and confronted her in the weeks before her murder. In 2009, cold case investigators arrested Lazarus after finding her DNA at the crime scene.

A trial court judge and then an appeals court both reluctantly tossed out the couple’s 2010 lawsuit as being filed way too late.


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