The Los Angeles Police Commission has found that LAPD officers were justified when they fatally shot a man on Skid Row in March 2015. Charly “Africa” Keunang, 43, was shot six times, twice with a gun pressed to his body. His death drew the attention of anti–police brutality activists after a bystander posted a video of the incident on Facebook. It showed a group of police officers scuffling with Keunang, who swings at them as they try to force him to the ground. At one point an officer is heard saying “Drop the gun. Drop the gun.” Police said they were responding to reports of a robbery, and Keunang tried to grab an officer’s weapon.
The LAPD has refused activists’ demands to release footage from the officers’ body cameras, but according to the L.A. Times the recording shows one of the officers threaten to use a Taser on Keunang while he was talking to police before the scuffle. At one point he goes back in his tent and says, “Leave me alone.” Instead, the officers pull open the tent and one shoots Keunang with a Taser, which “was not effective.”
While the commission found that the officers did not violate the department’s deadly force policies, they said one of the officer’s tactics violated policy, but did not specify how. The officers involved in Keunang’s shooting are all back on active duty.
Activists were present at Tuesday’s meeting and protested the panel’s decision. “How do you justify that?” asked General Jeff Page, an advocate for the homeless. “This is the result I’ve got to take back to my community and Skid Row.”