The family of a father who was shot and killed during an encounter with Los Angeles Police officers is demanding justice and accountability for his death.
Takar Smith, 46, a father of six, was one of three people who were killed during separate encounters with officers within the first week of 2023.
After Takar was fatally shot during what his family says was a mental health crisis, they’re now planning to file a lawsuit against the LAPD.
Authorities say they’re conducting a full investigation into the shooting which could take weeks, but the family wants answers now.
“Just know that he was a great person,” said Raischard Smith, Takar’s brother.
Raischard and his family held a press conference outside LAPD headquarters on Friday to remember Takar.
“It seems like we called on the wrong people for help,” said Raischard. “We can’t keep calling the law out here to kill us like this.”
Full bodycam footage of the shooting was released by LAPD Chief Michael Moore on Wednesday.
In the video, officers respond to an apartment on the 200 block of South Witmer Street in Westlake on Jan. 2.
Takar’s wife, Shameka, tells officers Takar was violating a restraining order by entering her apartment and allegedly refusing to leave. She also told police he was experiencing a mental health crisis and had access to a knife inside her home.
Shameka said she told police her husband should be admitted into a mental health facility.
“I wanted the police to help me and they failed, they really failed me,” said Shameka.
Bodycam footage shows officers speaking to Takar inside Shameka’s apartment while attempting to coax him outside.
Takar appears resistant and eventually heads to the kitchen where he grabs a large knife during the encounter. Officers are seen immediately tasing Takar until he drops the knife.
While Takar is on his knees, he grabs the knife again and lifts it above his head. That’s when officers fire multiple shots at Takar, killing him.
LAPD Chief Michael Moore expressed concerns that neither the officers nor police dispatch contacted mental evaluation units for help while being aware of a possible mental health issue.
“Why did they not contact that team in this particular incident?” asked Eric Valenzuela, the family’s lawyer. “This individual was shot on his knees. He was not advancing towards them.”
Mayor Karen Bass released a statement on Wednesday calling the incident ‘“deeply disturbing” saying in part:
“I have grave concerns about the deeply disturbing tapes that were released today. No matter what these investigations determine, however, the need for urgent change is clear. We must reduce the use of force overall, and I have absolutely no tolerance for excessive force.
Especially as a former healthcare professional, I am deeply troubled that mental health experts were not called in, even when there was a documented history of past mental health crisis. When there is no immediate risk to others, law enforcement must not be the first responder when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis. I believe officers and Angelenos agree on this.”
The Smith family wants the community to remember Takar as a loving son and father of six children.
They say he’s just like many others who struggle with mental health issues and who deserved help at a time when he needed it most.
“When people call for help, we’re not calling for executions,” said Raischard. “But now we are calling for justice.”
The family’s attorney plans to file a lawsuit against the LAPD for Takar’s death.
KTLA has confirmed the officers involved have since been placed on administrative leave.