Prosecutors have concluded that Los Angeles police officers were legally justified in shooting a homeless man last year on skid row, a videotaped killing that attracted international attention and renewed the local debate over interactions between police and L.A.’s homeless population.
The district attorney’s office found that the officers — Sgt. Chand Syed and Officers Francisco Martinez and Daniel Torres — reasonably believed Charly Leundeu Keunang posed a lethal threat during the March 1, 2015 shooting. Their decision was outlined in a 22-page memo obtained by The Times on Thursday.
Prosecutors said video from a body camera worn by the sergeant showed that Keunang had wrapped his fingers around the butt of a rookie officer’s holstered gun while wrestling with police, saying he was “rapidly gaining control” of the weapon. Even if he didn’t have complete control of the gun, they wrote, it could have easily fired as the struggle continued.
The officers “acted lawfully in self-defense and in defense of others,” prosecutors wrote in the Nov. 9 memo explaining why they were not charging the officers. “Keunang posed a high likelihood of killing officers and civilians at the very instant that he was shot.”
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