Claim filed in skid row shoot­ing

Fam­ily is seek­ing $20 mil­lion over the LAPD killing of Charly Le­un­deu Ke­u­nang on March 1.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Gale Hol­land gale.hol­land@la­ Twit­ter: @gehol­land

The fam­ily of a Cameroo­nian man who was fa­tally shot by po­lice on skid row filed a $20-mil­lion claim against the city Wed­nes­day, say­ing that of­fi­cers ini­ti­ated a strug­gle that ended in a “cop-cre­ated killing.”

Charly Le­un­deu Ke­u­nang’s sis­ter, Line Fom­ing, and their par­ents, Heleine Tchayou and Isaac Ke­u­nang, ac­cuse the city of Los An­ge­les, the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment and its of­fi­cers of ex­ces­sive force, as­sault and bat­tery, wrong­ful death and con­sti­tu­tional vi­o­la­tions.

In a let­ter, lawyers for Ke­u­nang’s fam­ily called on Los An­ge­les County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey to in­ves­ti­gate the March 1 death, re­lease po­lice body cam­era video and crim­i­nally charge the three of­fi­cers who opened fire.

“Law en­force­ment of­fi­cers are trained to de-es­ca­late sit­u­a­tions and to only use lethal force as a last re­sort,” the fam­ily said in the claim, a legal pre­cur­sor to a civil law­suit. “The LAPD of­fi­cers who killed Mr. Ke­u­nang vi­o­lated th­ese pro­to­cols, and their reck­less mis­takes and mis­con­duct re­sulted in this un­nec­es­sary death.”

“I saw every­body stand­ing up while he was on the floor,” Fom­ing said in an in­ter­view. “How can you shoot some­body on the floor?”

Au­thor­i­ties have said Ke­u­nang, 43, strug­gled with one of the of­fi­cers over his gun dur­ing an in­tense melee. A wit­ness has dis­puted the ac­count.

The claim says six LAPD of­fi­cers “at­tacked Mr. Ke­u­nang, tas­ing him, tack­ling him to the con­crete and re­peat­edly strik­ing him with their fists and ba­tons.... The of­fi­cers then shot Mr. Ke­u­nang six times from point­blank range as they held him down on the side­walk.”

Mil­lions of peo­ple viewed the con­fronta­tion af­ter a wit­ness up­loaded a video to Face­book.

Po­lice of­fi­cials said of­fi­cers went to talk to Ke­u­nang on a rob­bery call. In sur­veil­lance video of the scene, he re­treated to his tent, then emerged swing­ing when they pulled him out.

An of­fi­cer can be heard mak­ing re­peated com­ments about his gun, though his ex­act words are un­clear. Po­lice Chief Char­lie Beck told re­porters that the of­fi­cer said, “He has my gun.”

The fam­ily’s lawyer, Dan Stormer of Pasadena, said the of­fi­cer’s gun “never came out of his hol­ster.” The video showed the of­fi­cer re­mov­ing his gun from the hol­ster af­ter the shoot­ing.

Fom­ing said she and her par­ents were su­ing “so it won’t hap­pen again. Charly, maybe he can rest in peace and know he didn’t die for noth­ing.”

Ke­u­nang, who was once a promis­ing math and physics stu­dent, spent 14 years in fed­eral pri­son un­der a stolen French iden­tity for bank rob­bery, in­clud­ing years in a psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal. He hid the con­vic­tion from his fam­ily and dis­ap­peared, rel­a­tives said.

In June, af­ter his re­lease from pri­son, Ke­u­nang mes­saged his sis­ter on Face­book. The fam­ily had a three-day re­u­nion in Mas­sachusetts and was in al­most con­stant con­tact with Ke­u­nang af­ter he re­turned to Los An­ge­les to ob­tain travel doc­u­ments so he could move back to Cameroon, the claim said.

Michael Robin­son Chavez Los An­ge­les Times

THE FAM­ILY of Charly Le­un­deu Ke­u­nang, who was shot by LAPD of­fi­cers, came to Los An­ge­les to file the claim, a pre­cur­sor to a law­suit. His sis­ter Line Fom­ing, left, said of the video of the shoot­ing: “I saw every­body stand­ing up while he was on the floor. How can you shoot some­body on the floor?”

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