A lawsuit has been filed by the family of Charly Keunang against the city of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Police Department for wrongful death and negligence caused by police brutality. The lawsuit specifically names police chief Charlie Beck, and three other officers responsible for firing six bullets, two of which hit Keunang in the chest, and seeks $20 million in reparations. The police were apparently answering a 911 call made by another homeless man who had gotten into an argument with Keunang. The officers claim he became combative, and reached for a rookie officer’s gun, while the family claims that he was backing away and trying to defuse the situation when the officers shot him, handcuffed him, and refused medical aid until he bled to death. A video captured and uploaded online by a bystander has received millions of views online, prompting protests, and drawing comparisons with other African American deaths involving police brutality.
Charly Keunang moved to Los Angeles from Cameroon to pursue his dream of becoming a film actor. In 2000, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for robbing a bank, and pistol whipping an employee in an effort to pay for acting classes. During his time in prison, federal officials and medical staff diagnosed him with mental health issues that required treatment in a psychiatric hospital, and he was assigned to the mental health unit. After his release in 2014, he re-united with family in Boston, Massachusetts, where they say he was taking steps to get his life back together and get off the streets. “Nothing can justify the way he was killed,” said Keunang’s sister. “Now when I see the police, I don’t feel safe. That is why I seek justice for Charly. So no one ever has to feel this way again.”
Autopsy reports show that Keunang had meth and marijuana in his system at time of death. So far, the LAPD has declined to comment on the matter, and has also declined to release footage from the body cameras worn by the officers involved.
If you or a loved one have suffered due to negligence or wrongful death, the lawyers at Hodes Milman Liebeck are here to help you. Contact us today online at hmlm.com or call (949) 640-8222 for a complimentary case evaluation.