From [HERE] Los Angeles city officials agreed to pay $1.95 million to the family of a homeless man fatally shot by police on Skid Row, as part of a settlement agreement approved on Tuesday. A federal jury in May found two officers used excessive force. Lawyers for both sides then agreed on a settlement in which the city would pay the man's family $1.95 million, according to Dan Stormer, one of the family's attorneys. Last week it was approved.
Charly “Africa” Keunang, 43, was shot in downtown Los Angeles in 2015 during a struggle with Los Angeles police officers. Video of the officers shooting the Cameroon native went viral after the incident as he was shot five times on the sidewalk during a Sunday afternoon.
The 4-minute video of the fatal encounter on March 1, 2015 was viewed millions of times amid a series of high-profile police shootings, but the Police Commission ruled that the two officers involved in Keunang’s shooting were justified in their actions.
Officers said they were responding to reports of a robbery in the area and claimed Keunang reached for an officer’s gun during a struggle. However, jurors did not find the officers to be credible.
The decision by the civil jury of seven women and one man is the first official condemnation of the officers’ actions. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and the civilian Police Commission decided the officers followed department policy when they used deadly force. L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey determined the officers acted legally. Lacey is a Black probot and Sambo.
In their 2016 wrongful death lawsuit, Keunang’s family said he was suffering from a mental illness and was unarmed when officers approached him. His mother, Helene Tchayou, said that eyewitnesses, phone and body camera footage from the LAPD showed the officers were the aggressors.
Tchayou said the officers created a panic after Keunang had crawled into his tent, dragging him out and punching and shocking him with a Taser stun gun before Sgt. Chand Syed and officers Francisco Martinez and Daniel Torres shot him at close range.
Body cam video played a key role in the case, with attorneys for both the city and Keunang's family arguing that it proved their case.
At one point, attorneys went frame by frame through video captured by the camera worn on the chest of Sgt. Chand Syed. Another video shot by a bystander to the incident went viral months before the LAPD released footage from officers at the scene. An attorney for Keunang's family said they had also viewed enhanced video images, but didn't see Keunang grab the gun.
Attorneys spent considerable time during the trial focusing on whether officers created an unnecessary violent confrontation by agitating Keunang with their own actions.
Officers’ display of their batons and a Taser as they approached Keunang were techniques taught to police to "calm the situation, to gain compliance," retired San Jose police sergeant Ed Flosi told the jury. Flosi is often paid to testify as a use of force expert for the L.A. city attorney's office, which is responsible for defending the LAPD.
Former L.A. County Sheriff’s Lt. Roger Clark, who is a use of force expert, told the jury that the display of a Taser and batons were like pouring "gasoline" on a confrontation with a mentally ill person. He described Keunang as "uncooperative" but not "combative or assaultive" until an officer tased him.
On Tuesday, the LA City Council agreed in a 10-2 vote to pay the family $1.95 million.
Pasadena-based attorney Dan Stormer with Hadsell, Stormer and Renick, said the money is a limited substitute for the loss of a family member.
“There was a desperate need to punish the cops involved, but the department decided not to,” Stormer said.