Newly reviewed body camera videos have raised questions about the death of a homeless man in Los Angeles, who three police officers killed in March. After the Los Angeles Times reviewed the body camera videos, it said Charly “Africa” Keunang said, “Let me express myself” to officers before one threatened to use his Taser on the man.
According to the Los Angeles Times, police first confronted Keunang at his tent on Los Angeles’ notorious Skid Row — an area occupied by thousands of homeless people — because of a robbery call, but the conflict soon escalated. Police asked Keunang in the video if he hit someone, and after about a minute of unclear audio, Keunang said he has a right to speak.
Police continued to order Keunang against a wall to be handcuffed, but Keunang ignored the officers, and went into his Skid Row tent. "You gotta figure out what's going on. C'mon bro, just relax, OK? Step outside,” one officer said to Keunang on the video, to which Keunang said “OK.”
Police then fired a stun gun at Keunang while he was in his tent before Keunang eventually came out of the tent flailing toward officers. One officer said that Keunang had a gun, and shots then ring out on the video. The gun still appears to be in the holster of rookie officer Joshua Volasgis at the end of the video.
Sgt. Chand Syed and Officers Francisco Martinez and Daniel Torres were reported to have been the officers who shot Keunang a total of six times. The officers were placed on leave for an investigation. Keunang reportedly had methamphetamine in his system when he was killed.
The Los Angeles Police Department has refused to widely release the body camera footage, which does have holes in it, according to the Los Angeles Times. It cannot clearly be seen if Keunang did try to grab the officer’s gun, the Times reported.
Homeless man shot and killed by Los Angeles police in skid row http://t.co/G2D48kPPqI
— The Facts (@1687) September 25, 2015
Some experts reviewed transcripts of the incident and raised questions over how police handled it. "He is issuing commands, making threats and flatly ignoring Mr. Keunang's attempts to say anything," Seth Stoughton, a law professor at the University of South Carolina and former police officer, told the Los Angeles Times. "By trying to earn his cooperation rather than require his compliance, perhaps a tragic situation could have been avoided."