LAPD kills three Black and Latino men in 48 hours
NEW: AUDIO OF POSTS
I am experimenting with making an audio version of posts for those who are too busy to read the whole thing or simply prefer listening over reading.
Here is today’s post in audio form
LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT
The LAPD is under increased scrutiny for killing three men—two Black and one Latino, all experiencing some form of mental distress—in the span of 48 hours last week.
January 2: Shameka Smith contacted the LAPD because her husband, 45-year-old Takar Smith, had stopped taking his schizophrenia medication. Shameka intentionally went to the police station in person, instead of calling 911, to avoid a misunderstanding and potentially violent response.
“When I walked into the police station I was seeking help that’s why I didn’t make the 9-1-1 call because I didn’t want to make it seem like it was something bad because it was nothing bad,” she said. “I wanted the police to help me. They really failed me I never knew by going to the police that they would not help me and they just let me down.”
Police attempted to coax Smith out of his home, but he refused, grabbing a chair and a bike to place between him and officers (video). After being cornered in a small kitchen, Smith grabbed a knife from the counter. Officers tazed and pepper-sprayed Smith. He fell to his knees and dropped the knife momentarily. When he picked the knife up again, still on his knees and not within reach of officers, the LAPD opened fire and killed him.
January 3: LAPD shot and killed 35-year-old Oscar Leon Sanchez after getting a call about a man threatening a driver with a knife. According to police, they found Sanchez in an abandoned building, where he confronted them with “a two and a half foot long metal, makeshift spear.” The officers shot and killed Sanchez when he allegedly stepped toward them. No body camera footage is available because one of the officers is using a riot shield that blocks the view of Sanchez.
Sanchez had reportedly been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and was going through a mental health crisis at the time.
“We see this as a pattern of police in this city and across the nation being called to respond to mental health crises and unfortunately in too many occasions we see lethal force be deployed,” said Alejandro Villalpando of the Coalition for Community Control Over the Police.
January 3: LAPD officers encountered 31-year-old teacher Keenan Anderson in the middle of the road after a vehicular accident. Anderson was in the midst of a mental health crisis, possibly caused by drug use, that made him paranoid and hard to understand.
Bodycam video shows Anderson running in the middle of the street alongside a motorcycle officer. He tells the officer to help him and points in another direction. The officer drives in that direction, at which point people point him back to Anderson…“Somebody’s trying to kill me,” Anderson says, jogging onto the sidewalk. The officer tells Anderson to stop and to get up against a wall, prompting Anderson to drop to his knees and put his hands behind his head while telling the officer, “I didn’t mean to” and “I’m sorry.”
Anderson runs down the street, where more officers surround him and pin him on the ground. “They’re trying to George Floyd me!” Anderson said, yelling “please, help me!” Officers tased Anderson on the ground five times.
After being handcuffed, Anderson insisted, “This is an act…They’re not police,” and said “They think I killed C Lo…They’re trying to sedate me…I know too much.”
Four hours after being transported to the hospital, Anderson went into cardiac arrest and died.
FORT WORTH SHOOTING
A former Fort Worth police officer was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 11 years in prison for the 2019 shooting of a Black woman in her own home.
At 2 am on Oct. 12, 2019, Fort Worth police responded to a welfare call from a neighbor reporting that the front door to someone’s home was open. Officers walked around the side of the house where 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson lived with her mother and 8-year-old nephew.
Officer Aaron Dean walked into Jefferson’s backyard, shining his flashlight around the area. Seeing Jefferson inside the residence at the window, Dean raised his weapon at her, yelling “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” Body camera footage shows he fired two seconds later, never identifying himself as a police officer.
Jefferson died on scene from a single gunshot wound.
According to her nephew, the two were playing video games when they heard noises outside the window. Jefferson took her legally-owned gun from her purse and walked to the window, holding it at her side. Neither her nephew nor officers on the call with Dean said she ever raised the weapon.
[Interim Police Chief Ed] Kraus said there was “absolutely no excuse” for the shooting and pleaded with the community not to let the actions of one officer reflect on the entire force of almost 1,700…
Kraus said the gun found in the room “made sense” if Jefferson was alarmed to hear someone walking around outside her bedroom window. He said the officers apparently believed they were responding to an “open structure” call – which could have meant the home was broken into – rather than a “welfare call” in which they check to make sure people in the home are safe.
The neighbor who called the police, James Smith, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he called a non-emergency police number for a safety check because he saw the doors were open and the lights were on. “I’m shaken. I’m mad. I’m upset. And I feel it’s partly my fault,” he said. “If I had never dialed the police department, she’d still be alive.”
Dean was arrested two days after the shooting and charged with murder. Last month, a jury found him guilty of manslaughter and sentenced the former officer to 11 years and 10 months behind bars.