L.A. City Council approves $1.9M settlement to family of homeless man killed by police

By Ray Downs

Aug. 21 (UPI) -- The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved a $1.9 settlement to be paid to the family of an unarmed homeless man killed by police in 2015.

Charly "Africa" Keunang, a mentally ill homeless man living on Los Angeles' Skid Row, was 43 when members of the Los Angeles Police Department shot him dead on March 1, 2015. The shooting was caught on cell phone video, which went viral and sparked days of protests in the city. In May, a federal jury found two of the officers who shot him used excessive force.


The video shows Keunang surrounded by multiple officers who try to subdue him. At one point, one of the officers throws Keunang onto the ground and gets on top of him as other officers use Tasers and batons to subdue him before multiple shots are fired. He died on the scene.

Three LAPD members -- Sgt. Chand Syed and officers Francisco Martinez and Daniel Torres -- fired on Keunang. Syed and Martinez were found to have used excessive force and Torres was cleared of wrongdoing.

Tuesday's settlement was approved via a 12-2 vote. One of the "no" votes came from Councilman Joe Buscaino, whose spokesman said he voted against the settlement because the city's civilian Police Commission found the shooting justified, The Los Angeles Times reported.


Police Chief Charlie Beck also said the shooting was justified because one officer accused Keunang of grabbing his gun during the physical confrontation, but Keunang's DNA was not found on the weapon.

Dan Stormer, the attorney for Keunang's family, told Courthouse News Service that the LAPD needs to improve its policing methods.

"Hopefully, the city will look at the payouts they are making because of officer misconduct and start to train and limit the violent conduct of the officers," Stormer said.

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