Crime & Justice

Family of Skid Row man fatally shot by LAPD to file $20M lawsuit

Charly Leundeu Keunang was fatally shot by LAPD officers on Skid Row March 1, 2015.
Charly Leundeu Keunang was fatally shot by LAPD officers on Skid Row March 1, 2015.
Courtesy of Ventura County Sheriff's Office

The family of Charly “Africa” Keunang will file a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles Thursday, according to attorneys representing his mother and sister. The lawsuit claims LAPD officers acted negligently when they fatally shot the unarmed homeless man from Cameroon on Skid Row in March.

“Six trained and fully-armed police officers initiated a conflict and shot Keunang six times in the unnecessary struggle that ensued,” according to a statement. The lawsuit seeks $20 million.

The shooting was caught on videotape and immediately went viral. Millions of people saw Keunang appearing to fight with officers, who shoot him after he allegedly tried to grab one of their guns.

But an article published in "GQ" magazine last month said body cam videos viewed by the reporter did not show Keunang with his hand on any of the officers’ weapons and, rather than struggling with them, he seemed to be trying to pull Taser wires out of his back.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has said the article contained “multiple inaccuracies” but refused to describe them. He has said he is reserving judgment about the shooting. He's also said it occurred after a “brutal, brutal fight.”

An autopsy showed officers shot Keunang six times, with Keunang suffering two “contact gunshot wounds.”

Kuenang’s shooting came amid a national debate about the police killing of unarmed African American men. It sparked angry protests outside police headquarters and comparisons to the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

The LAPD Force Investigation Division, LAPD Inspector General and LA District Attorney are investigating the shooting to determine if it was either out of department policy or a criminal act by the officers.

Wrongful death lawsuit