LAPD officers will not face charges in death of homeless man on Skid Row

LAPD officers will not face charges in death of homeless man on Skid Row
Source: AP
Source: AP

Three Los Angeles police officers who shot and killed a black homeless man on downtown's Skid Row in March 2015 will not be charged, according to a report from the district attorney. The report, per the AP, concludes the officers were justified because the man, Charly Keunang, reached for one of the officers' guns during the struggle. 

"The officers' reasonable assessments of the threat posed by Keunang were as grave and imminent as the officers perceived," the prosecutors wrote in a statement, according to the AP. "Keunang posed a high likelihood of killing officers and civilians at the very instant that he was shot."

The shooting of Keunang became a national story in 2015 after the incident was caught on video by a bystander, adding to the still-active dialogue around police brutality. The video, as cited by bystanders and reporters who claim to have seen it, didn't back up the LAPD's contention that Keunang grabbed for one of the officers' guns. At one point, per bystanders, police tased Keunang before he was shot.

A civil lawsuit filed to the L.A. Superior Court in August 2015 from Keunang's family, claimed the officers escalated the tension between themselves and Keunang, who was mentally ill. 

"The officers exploded into acts of violence, almost certain to cause anyone, much less a person suspected of suffering from mental illness, to panic," said the suit

The charges being dropped were largely based on video from the officers' body cameras, according to the AP, which is notable considering the LAPD had previously championed a pilot program for body cameras on its officers. 

However, journalist Jeff Sharlet — who wrote about the shooting for GQ, and claims to have seen the body cam footage — noted in a series of tweets the footage doesn't show Keunang grabbing for the gun. He says the district attorney's office is "flat lying" about what they reviewed. 

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Miles Surrey

Miles is a staff writer at Mic, covering culture. He is based in New York and can be reached at miles@mic.com.

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