The family of a man shot and killed by police on downtown Los Angeles' Skid Row alleges in its $20 million claim against the city that the "cop-created killing" was the result of excessive force and "reckless mistakes."
Accompanied by their attorneys, family members of Cameroonian national Charly Leundeu Keunang talked about their claims at a news conference Thursday outside the LAPD's downtown police headquarters.
Keunang, 43, was killed March 1 by LAPD officers who were responding to a robbery report on Skid Row. During the confrontation, captured on surveillance cameras, police body cameras and witness video, Keunang struggled with one of the officers over the officer's gun during a struggle, according to police.
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In the claim for damages, Keunang's sister, Line Foming, and their parents, Heleine Tchayou and Isaac Keunang, accuse the city, LAPD and its officers of excessive force, assault and battery, wrongful death and constitutional violations. The family alleges the officers involved triggered a struggle that ended in a "cop-created killing."
Lawyers for Keunang's family called on Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey to investigate the death, release police body camera video and criminally charge the three officers who opened fire, the Los Angeles Times reported. Two officers were wearing body cameras, according to police.
In surveillance video of the scene, he retreated to his tent, then emerged swinging when they pulled him out during the robbery report investigation. Keunang then tried to reach for an officer's holstered weapon during a struggle that began after he refused to comply with police commands, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.
Several screengrabs obtained from witness videos show the man attempting to "forcibly grab" one of the officer's guns, Beck said at a news conference two days after the shooting. He also said an officer in the video said "He has my gun" several times before three other officers opened fire in what the chief described as an "extreme tragedy."
At least five rounds were fired, police said.
The news conference came on the same day protesters marched to LAPD headquaters, demanding answers about the fatal shooting of the man many knew as "Africa."
Keunang, a Cameroon national, arrived in the United States 15 years ago using the stolen identity of a French citizen. He served 15 years in federal prison under his assumed name for bank robbery before being paroled in April 2013.