Cops, aka corporate thug Blue Gang members are the most dangerous element in our twisted society today.
U.S. police kill more Americans every year -- around 1100 -- than Iraqis killed American soldiers at height of Iraq War (961, 2007).
There were over 1200 Blue Gang fatal shootings in 2014 across this corporate slave plantation we call a country and all but a few were justified.
What else can you expect when you give an adrenalin addicted low conscious corporate thug a gun, badge, 007 license and their magic suit? Twilight Zone on Steroids.
Another black life lost to police bullets, unarmed, ignored, and forgotten
Frank Vyan Walton
There is a lot of press and attention right now over the death of 28-year-old Sandra Bland. She was young, she was pretty, it's easy to splash her photo onto a story or a Facebook post, pleasant and inviting before the violent arrest that led to her incarceration and death, dark and seemingly dead-eyed in her mugshot.
We can watch the footage of her arrest for a lane change, a change that was instigated by Officer Encinia's excessive speed, and see how it's quickly escalates from "Could you please put out your cigarette?" to "Get out of the car, nowâ€”I'll light you up." We can shake our heads at how he tells her she is under arrest while she's still in the car, but then on the police report claims she was arrested ... for resisting arrest?
It's easy to empathize with Bland. It's easy to feel how she still had promise, starting a new job in a new city. Except for her argumentativeness while being arrested for something she should never have been arrested for, she's very nearly a "model victim." Perfectly pulled from central casting to generate the maximum in sympathy.
But not all fatal victims of police violence are so perfect, so shiny and neat. Some of them may have a record. Some of them may have been immigrants with dreams of one day becoming an actor, "like Marlon Brando." Some of them may be homeless and display signs of mental instability. Some of them may have fought back against police after they were called because of a "robbery." Some of them are Charly "Africa" Keunang, originally from Cameroon and may have died in broad daylight under police guns with dozens of bystanders watching and several filming.
While they held him pinned to the ground, one officer screamed, "He has my gun!" Three officers then opened fire, ultimately hitting Charly six times, according to the autopsy.
But Charly didn't have his gun. Charly never had his gun. Charly couldn't even reach his gun from where he was pinned on the ground. Yet Charly is still dead, and exactly why that isâ€”and why hardly any of us even know about itâ€”is discussed below.
And lo, here we have yet another police snuff film [graphic warning] of an unarmed, yet certainly not compliant, black man.
A second video can be seen here.
I'm sad to say I live in Los Angeles, and I work downtown, so this area is very familiar to me. I see the homeless there just about every day. I saw the above footage on my local news broadcast and frankly, forgot about it until I saw some tweets by Jeff Sharlet complaining that this story was being ignored as the drumbeats of something fish-smelly in the Sandra Brand case grew ever louder. That case is important, but then so is this one. It seems our lives have become so cheap, and police killings so common, that it didn't even register to meâ€”and I write about these all the time. I had to ask myself, Don't homeless lives matter too?
Especially when Keunang was far more than just some "burn out," drug addict, or victim of schizophrenia. He was talented and smart:
Keunang, one of Tchayou's two children, was several courses short of the equivalent of a bachelor's degree in mathematics and physics when he moved to the U.S. to break into Hollywood. "Charly was a very bright student,"' said David Singui, a Los Angeles businessman who is acting as the Tchayou family spokesman. "Life is very difficult in Cameroon for young people. There are no jobs." Arriving in Los Angeles in 1997 on a stolen passport, Keunang posed as Charley Saturmin Robinet while living with friends on Wilcox Avenue in Hollywood. He later told the FBI he worked as a personal trainer. Keunang kept fit and did not use alcohol or drugs, Marcus Timmons, who was also convicted in the heist, said in an interview. Keunang played up the "French" angle and was popular with women, he added. "He could have made it," said Timmons, adding that Keunang's Robert De Niro and Al Pacino impersonations showed talent. [Emphasis added]
He had promise. And I shouldn't have to make a point of that if indeed, All Lives Did Matter, but the truth is they don't. Not to all of us, and not all the time. Most of us are human and we only value the lives when we can see ourselves in those exact same shoes, and not many of us have, ever will, or can even conceive of walking a mile in the shoes of the homeless.
Certainly not the LAPD, because If you listen to their claims, they had no choice but to shoot Charly:
â€œWhile on the ground and struggling with the officers, the man forcibly grabbed one of the officerâ€™s holstered pistols, resulting in an officer-involved shooting,â€ [LAPD Chief Charlie] Beck said. Police were responding to a robbery call at East Sixth Street and South San Pedro Street when the shooting took place. When officers arrived â€œthey saw the individual they believed was a suspect and attempted to take him into custody,â€ LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith told reporters following Sundayâ€™s shooting. ... Multiple attempts by officers to disable the man by using Tasers were apparently unsuccessful, Smith said. Witness Yolanda Young said the homeless man would just get back up after being stunned. â€œHe was down but then he jumped up, like he was juiced up, and then he started swinging at the police and they were fighting him back,â€ Young said. â€œI have reviewed video and audio. â€¦ Preliminary, you can hear the young officer who is primarily engaged in the confrontation saying that â€˜he has my gun. He has my gun.â€™ â€¦ He says it several times, with conviction,â€ Beck said. [Emphasis added]
So because one officer said, with conviction, that "he has my gun," we should believe him, and the immediate response should be the subject loses his life. It could be understood that when a subject has taken a deadly weapon away from an officer, then deadly force should be used to protect the officers and the public. Just as the Los Angeles Police Protective League has stated:
"LAPD officers â€¦ face complex situations, unthinkable dangers and split-second decisions â€¦ As tragic as those situations are law enforcement officers absolutely have the right to defend their life or the life of another."
Absolutely, they have the right, even responsibility, to defend themselves when others put them in deadly danger. That's clear. That's obvious. That's the way it should be.
Except that in this case, that is. not. what. happened.
Not according to GQ's Jeff Sharlet who spent four months investigating this case, including viewing the bodycam footage of two of the officers involved in the shooting. Those cameras, which were much closer to the action, tell a completely different story, Sharlet writes. Below I quote at length from his article, with permission, and urge you to read his account in full. All emphasis is mine.
The police say they were responding to a robbery call. In the ï¬fty-block Skid Row district officially designated a homeless "containment" zone, an open can of beer draws multiple squad cars. At first there is only one policeman, Sergeant Chand Syed. An unusual response, if the situation was as threatening as they'd later claim. Two more policemen arrive. Most of the police are indistinguishable to Skid Row residents, but one of the officers, Francisco Martinez, has a reputation. "Hard-ass bitch cop," says a witness. "Napoleon cop." His partner is an African-American rookie, never identiï¬ed by the LAPD, whose name is Joshua Volasgis. Martinez and Syed are wearing body cameras. The LAPD has to date refused to release that video. But I've been able to carefully review the body-cam videos and listen to recordings of police interviews with several of those involved. This is what Volasgis tells detectives: When Martinez asked "the suspect"â€”Charlyâ€”for ID, Charly "became very agitated and aggressive," with "clenched fists" and "screaming." Volasgis says they told Charly to get up against the wall. Volasgis is a rookie, ten months on the force; Martinez is Volasgis's training officer. Martinez tells the detectives that "the victim " â€”Laru Jay Curls, Charly's friend and neighborâ€”claimed Charly had kicked him and threatened him with a mini baseball bat. Volasgis will say Laru was "in fear for his life." In the body cam footage I've seen, Laru sits quietly on the curb next to Charly's tent. The audio is rough, but we don't hear anyone ask Laru or Charly about a bat. The scuffle between them, Laru will tell me, was over a woman. Charly thought Laru had been harassing her. A conflict was documented by the Union Rescue Mission's security camera: Charly tipped Laru's tent into the street. Kicked it a couple of times. Then he sat down on his milk crate. Crawled into his tent. No bat, big or little. The detectives ask Martinez if he saw a bat. No, he says. But he can imagine it: "For the benefit of the tape," say the detectives, describing what we can't see on the audio recordings, Martinez is holding his hands "about maybe eighteen to twenty inches apart." "Assault with a deadly weapon, then?" the detectives ask after more questions. "Yes it is," says Martinez. On this, the threat of the mini-bat none of them saw, Martinez is clear. The rest of his investigation is foggy. He tries to question Charly, he tells the detectives, but it's useless: "Just talking, not making any sense." "What was he saying?" ask the detectives. "I don't remember." What Charly is saying, according to Martinez's body cam, is: "Let me express myself." What Martinez is saying is: "You're gonna get tased." The clearest documentation of Charly's last five minutes and fifty-two seconds begins shortly before Martinez and Volasgis arrive. It begins, in the video from Sergeant Syed's body camera, with a survey of a quiet Sunday morning on Skid Row. There's the fig tree with its dense canopy, the red wall, the two-story glass cross. There's a flattened tent, a crumpled tarp, a blue tent still standing. That's Charly's. About five feet away sits Laru. "Our victim, supposedly," Sergeant Syed tells Martinez and Volasgis when they arrive. Charly's standing in between his tent and his milk crate. He's wearing black slacks, a black hoodie with a gold pattern, and a dark cap. As with Syed's, there is thirty seconds of silence on the copy of Martinez's body-cam video. Then we hear birds in the trees. We hear Martinez. He's a buzz-cut cop in wraparound shades, barrel-chested and barrel-bellied. He says to Charly, loudly, "You don't tell me how to do my job." Charly's feet are planted. He is not approaching. No fists. No screaming. He gestures toward Martinez with his right hand, open, waist level, as if to say, cool it. But you don't tell a cop to cool it. On Skid Row that can count as resisting. Martinez says, "We're going to do things my way." Charly tries to say, "Listen." Martinez says, "No, it doesn't work like that." To Volasgis he says, "Partner, give me the Taser." Volasgis, a tall lean man, unholsters a bright green Taser and passes it to Martinez. "You're gonna get tased," Martinez says. "You understand?" Charly nods. His Cameroonian accent is crisp, formal, his words considered: "If you let me express myself, maybe you may have a chance to explain why you're doing this right now." "Sir," says Syed, his voice easy, "you will get hurt if you don't comply." There's no if about it in Martinez's words: "Sir, you're gonna get tased." "Let me express myself, Martinez," says Charly. He knows Martinez's name. Martinez tells him to get up against the wall. "Let me express myself," Charly says. Against the wall. "Your job is to let people express themselves." "There you go again," Martinez says. "Are you gonna listen?" Charly asks. "Sir, this is why you're gonna get tased!" It's too late. "You can go ahead and"â€”it sounds like he could be saying "kill me," but I can't be sure. Then he says clearly, "You can go ahead and tase me." He makes a time-out gesture. He edges his right foot forward. His left remains in the tent. Martinez aims the Taser. "Don't walk up to me." He says it twice. "Listen," Charly says to Syed, "tell this guy to stop it." He looks at Martinez one last time, his palms out, hands held low. "You need to stop it right now," Charly tells him. Then he turns away. He crawls into his tent. He says, "Leave me alone." He says it twice. Syed tries to talk Charly out. Martinez moves in with the Taser. Volasgis follows, gun aimed side grip. Syed and another sergeant who's arrived peel back the tent. There's Charly. He's on one knee, his arms wrapped around him. "C'mon, brother," says Syed. "Just relax. Step outside." Charly picks something off the tent floor. Something smaller than the palm of his hand. "Put your hands up!" snaps Syed. Charly starts to rise and it looks like he's about to put up his hands, but we will never know, because Martinez shoots his Taser, two darts connected to electrified wire, and Charly turns, and this is where it begins. The end: "He came out like a whirlwind," says Mecca Harper, who owns a store by Charly's corner. In the clearest of the cell-phone videos, he weaves between two cops and turns and swings and misses, his punch carrying him full circle; then he twirls again, arms akimbo, and loses whatever balance he has. Volasgis, who has dropped his nightstickâ€”he lets go as if he's forgotten it's in his handâ€”catches him. Four officers swarm. "My nigger! My nigger!" shouts a man on one of the cell-phone videos. Watch it slower now. Syed's body cam: Charly stands, spins, palms open: a man fighting wire. He throws whatever it is in his hand and begins to twirl. Not a whirlwindâ€”a windmill, wrapping himself in the current, up on his toes. Freeze: Charly. The fifth minute, the tenth second, of Syed's cam: Charly has come full circle, arms spread, fingers spread, legs spread, falling. Volasgis punches Charly "two, three times in the facial area," he tells detectives, "and he wraps me up at that point as he falls to the ground." A fluid motion, he says: "Grab, punch." Volasgis feels someone holding on. It could be Charly. It could be Martinez. It could be both. "My belt," he'll say. "Get his ass!" shouts Syed. Again: "Get his ass!" They get his ass. And meanwhile, a womanâ€”her name is Trishawn Carey, but on the street people call her Nicki Minajâ€”walks around the knot of men and picks up the nightstick Volasgis has dropped. What she means to do with it isn't clear. It was not likely clear to her. She's "ï¬fty-one ï¬fty," say many who know her, slang for insane. Later, when I visit her in jailâ€”her bail is set at $1,085,000, and she could face life without parole for picking up the stick with which she didn't touch a soulâ€”she'll tell me she doesn't remember what happened, she doesn't really know why she's in jail. Then, crying without tears, she'll sing hymns. Pretty little soprano through the jailhouse phone. "My stick! My stick!" yells Volasgis. "Stop resisting!" yells Martinez. He says it twice. An officer named Daniel Torres moves in with a second Taser and, using it as a stun gunâ€”direct to the bodyâ€”hits the outer right thigh, the inner thigh, in toward the crotch. There is the beetle-like zk-zk-zk. Charly's one free foot spasms. The police will say the Tasers didn't connect. True? We'll have to trust them. Some Tasers record voltage, but the police won't release any data. As explanation for the shooting, the police would later say that Charly had reached for the officer's weapon, In the video the public sees,a glint of sun on a squad car, reï¬‚ected light dissecting the scene, and Volasgis, shouting, "He has my gun! He has my gun!" Charly does not have the gun, of this there is no question. He may have reached for it. His arm may have convulsed. He may have never come near. Volasgis will tell the detectives he was straddling the suspect, by which he means his right hipâ€”his gunâ€”was close, or close enough to Charly's hand. He will insist that the suspect had "defeated" the two safety measures on his holster. He will say he was holding the suspect's hand down as the suspect attempted to draw his weapon. And yet, on Syed's and Martinez's cam footage, we cannot see Charly reach. Volasgis will say the suspect lets go of his pistol only after the first shot is fired. But this is not true. When Martinez shoots Charly, Volasgis is already on his way to standing. The gun is beyond reach. "Boom-boo-boom, boom-boo-boom," says a woman who watched from her wheelchair. Some people hear three shots, most make out ï¬ve. The autopsy commissioned by Charly's familyâ€”four months later, the coroner still hasn't released theirsâ€”says Charly was shot six times. Martinez says he shot once; Torres says he heard the shot, believed Charly had the gun, and shot twice; that would leave three bullets for Sergeant Syed to put into the body. "Goddamn!" hollers one of the men filming it on a cell phone. "Motherfucker. Motherfucker. Motherfu-u-u-cker."
On the tapes the police have in their possession, Charly does not attack, kick, or punch the officers. He gets tased and they punch him. No, he doesn't lay down and assume the positionâ€”he argues and tries to tell his side of the story, then once he's Tased he spinsâ€”open handed, not with clenched fistâ€”in an apparent effort to get free of the Taser darts.
The claim that he had "a small bat" is false. The claim, according to the alleged victim Laru, that there was a "robbery" appears to be false. There had been an altercation between a man and a tent, but since it took place outside of the view of police officers, they don't have the ability to arrest based on that. That would have required a citizen's arrest by Laru himself. Bottom line, according to Laru, the "victim," was that their dispute stemmed from Charly standing up for a woman who had been harassed by Laru. But since it's Laru who brings the police into it, Charly is the "suspect" who need to be made to comply.
All police have is the suspicion of a robbery, with no evidence of a robbery. What exactly was taken? Where is it? Where is the proof? Did officers on the scene even attempt to ascertain the facts of the case, the evidence of robbery, the missing mystical "bat" or functionally do anything other than to get Charly to "comply" or else "die?"
Considering the department's investment in a special unit for downtown "containment area" for homeless persons, should they also invest in training and techniques for handling mentally challenged persons, who may not even fully understand what is occurring around them, without allowing things to get violent?
The mistaken claim of rookie cop Volasgis that "he has my gun," who also clumsily dropped his own night-stick, causing a poor mentally challenged woman to face life in prison for picking it up, was the final catalyst in causing Charly Keunang to lose his life. He may or may not have touched the gun, but he clearly did not successfully unholster it.
Volasgis was mistaken, he was wrong. Adrenaline pumping, confusion raining, multiple Tasers firing. One cop firing because he heard the shots he assumed were coming from the "armed" suspect.
And a man died.
LAPD needs to release this footage. The department needs to let the public see what Jeff Sharlet was able to see as he discussed on NPR and told the Huffington Post:
Sharlet would not say how he was able view the body cam footage. He also said it's noteworthy that the LAPD still hasn't released it to the public. "When body cameras exonerate them, thatâ€™s on the 11:00 news," Sharlet said. "When they donâ€™t, they hold on and on and on."Sharlet also said that many media outlets were quick to accept the official version of what happened without doing any digging."They just took what the cops told them," Sharlet said. [Emphasis added]
Unfortunately we can't just take what the cops tell us for granted.
And this is why.
They need to show us that a man's life isn't automatically forfeited because a clumsy rookie loses his cool and panics, and that the LAPD is open and fair and willing to truly let us see what happened rather than hide behind false claims to avoid liability.
LAPD needs to #ReleaseTheCharlyTapes.
Let us all see what happened and how this man lost his life. Not because we need to see yet another Cop Snuffs Black Man film, but simply because that's what required for the public to maintain trust and confidence in the competence and authority of its public police servants.