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Families of Charly ‘Africa’ Keunang and Alex Jimenez — Killed by LAPD in 2015 — To Get Million-Dollar City Council Settlements

6:55 PM PDT on August 21, 2018

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved two multi-million dollar settlements in cases involving police killings. The death of Charly “Africa” Keunang, a homeless man killed by LAPD in March 2015 on Skid Row, will cost the city $1.95 million. The brutal beating and suffocation by LAPD of Alex Jimenez in April 2015 in South Los Angeles will cost it $1.45 million.

L.A. City Council originally approved both settlements in a near unanimous vote with Councilmember Joe Buscaino, a former officer, initially the only dissenting vote. The votes prompted an outburst in public comment from a resident named John Walsh who chastised the LAPD and the city for the pay-outs.

“Everytime the LAPD beats the shit out of a woman, it costs us $2 million,” Walsh said from the podium addressing the council. “But does the new captain give a damn about it? No. Do you give a damn about it? No. Just throw $2 millon at Heleine Tchayou.”

Tchayou is the mother of the man known as Africa who was killed on Skid Row in an incident that went viral when video of the shooting was posted on Facebook.

The death of the man then unidentified set off days of protests led by Black Lives Matter and gained national attention prompting Keunang’s mother to see a photo of her son on the nightly news. LAPD had argued that Keunang acted violently when he tried to fight arresting officers.

Joshua Volasgis, the LAPD officer who shouted, “He’s got my gun!” in the melee, was later proven wrong by an LAPD investigation which found no fingerprints or DNA belonging to Keunang on any of his equipment.

In the Jimenez case, court documents say police tased Jimenez multiple times and held him down with a knee on his throat, despite repeated pleas by family members to let him breathe. A police officer ignored the pleas causing Jimenez to “vomit, turn blue, and ultimately die.” A witness who filmed the incident said in the case that LAPD officers erased the footage once they found out they were being recorded.

Police photo of Charly Keunang.

The Skid Row case cast a pall over Charlie Beck’s tenure as police chief. In 2016, the Los Angeles Police Commission cleared the officers involved in the shooting. At that time Beck, blamed the current political climate and a series of high profile police shootings for the protests.

"This one was obviously made more difficult by the times we live in and by the outcome — which was sad,” Beck told the L.A. Times. “But I also recognize how hard police officers' jobs are. And they have a right to defend themselves."

Beck left the office of chief on June 27. His successor, Chief Michel “Mike” Moore, has in his first weeks in office faced similar high profile shootings,  including a case of a woman shot by LAPD at a homeless outreach center at a Van Nuys church and the accidental killing of a hostage at a Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake.

The City Council voted Tuesday without discussion. The vote was brought up again toward the end of the meeting after reconsideration. In the second vote of both settlements, Councilmember Mitchell Englander, a republican, joined Buscaino in the dissent. The council had previously debated both cases with the city attorney present in closed sessions on Aug. 13.

RELATED: LAPD Releases Video: Knife-Wielding Man at Van Nuys Church Grabs Woman as Hostage, Officers Shoot Both

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