The attorney for the family of Cameroon national Charly Leundeu Keunang said Thursday his sister and parents have filed a $20 million claim against the Los Angeles Police Department and the city over Keunang’s fatal shooting by police on Skid Row.
Attorney Dan Stormer — speaking outside the LAPD’s downtown headquarters — called the shooting “a despicable act,” with police officers now claiming “somehow they were entitled to brutally kill this man.”
The officers “violated every known principal of interaction with people that you can imagine in a police manual,” Stormer said.
The 43-year-old Keunang “was doing nothing,” Stormer said. “He was on the streets. He was bothering no one … They’re the ones that initiated with force, they’re the ones who began this process in a way that resulted in his death.”
The shooting was “almost like an execution,” with autopsy results showing that Keunang “was held down, he was being pummeled, he was being hit with batons, he was being kicked and they shot him in the chest four times,” as well as twice in his arms, Stormer said.
Stormer was accompanied by Keunang’s sister, Line Marquise Foming, and mother, Heleine Tchayou, both Boston residents.
Foming said the shooting was “cop-created” and her younger brother died because of the “illegal actions” of the LAPD.
“I’m bringing this lawsuit to make sure that Charly’s memory is honored and that the police are held accountable,” Foming said.
Tchayou, speaking French, said through sobs that Keunang was her only son and she “will never forget those images” on television of him being shot by police.
Keunang was killed March 1 by LAPD officers. The claim filed by Foming, Tchayou and Keunang’s father contends LAPD and its officers of excessive force, assault and battery, wrongful death and constitutional violations.
Stormer also called on Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey to proceed with a “thorough investigation and criminal prosecution of the officers involved.”
“Law enforcement officers are trained to de-escalate situations and to only use lethal force as a last resort,” the family said in the claim, a legal precursor to a civil suit. “The LAPD officers who killed Mr. Keunang violated these protocols and their reckless mistakes and misconduct resulted in this unnecessary death.”
Authorities have said Keunang struggled with one of the officers over his gun during an intense melee. A witness disputed the account.
The claim against the city says six LAPD officers “attacked Mr. Keunang, Tasing him, tackling him to the concrete and repeatedly striking him with their fists and batons. … The officers then shot Mr. Keunang six times from point-blank range as they held him down on the sidewalk.”
Millions of people viewed the confrontation after a witness uploaded a video to Facebook. The shooting brought to light rising tensions between police and homeless people as downtown Los Angeles’ economic renaissance has left them behind.
Police officials said officers went to talk to Keunang on a robbery call. An officer can be heard making repeated comments about his gun, though his exact words are unclear, the newspaper reported.
Police Chief Charlie Beck told reporters that an officer said, “He has my gun.”
Stormer said the officer’s gun never came out of his holster. The video showed the officer removing his gun from the holster after the shooting
—City News Service