The homeless man killed by police officers in Los Angeles’ Skid Row has finally been identified as 43-year-old Charley Leundeu Keunang. Keunang died from multiple gunshot wounds after an altercation with police officers that was captured on video. According to reports, the LAPD were responding to a robbery call and said Keunang acted belligerently and even tried to steal the handgun of one of the responding officers. He was initially identified as a French national named Charley Saturmin Robinet.
However, French officials denied that he was a citizen. Keunang had been arrested previously under his assumed name for his part in a bank robbery in Thousand Oaks. He served 15 years in federal prison for the bank robbery before being paroled in April 2013. When immigration officials attempted to deport him, he said he was from Cameroon and revealed his true name. Keunang is known in Skid Row as “Africa”.
Skid Row homeless man killed by LAPD was a convicted bank robber http://t.co/y6I0AA4945
— Gawker (@Gawker) March 3, 2015
While two of the videos of the incident were taken by onlookers on their cellphones, a third video surfaced which was taken from the Union Rescue Mission’s security cameras. The footage lacks audio, but offers a comprehensive account of what happened. Four officers were seen talking with Keunang. It is assumed that the police officers were making the homeless man leave because homeless people are only allowed to sleep on the street from 9:00 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.
The situation escalates when more police officers arrive on the scene, with one of the officers diving headfirst into Keunang’s tent. An altercation ensued, and the officers incapacitated Keunang with a taser before firing the fatal shots.
Skid Row became known as the central hub of Los Angeles’ homeless population as well as several criminal elements including pimps, prostitutes, and drug dealers. It was the result of an experiment by the Los Angeles government to offer a home to the homeless, someplace far away from where the city was being developed.
However, with Downtown LA becoming more developed than it has ever been, Skid Row is becoming prime real estate and the homeless community is in danger of being shut down. Keunang’s shooting doesn’t make the situation any better.
Despite the current state of Skid Row, it has become home to people who are looking for cheaper alternatives to living in Downtown LA. It’s become home to artists, and even businessmen have decided to situate their businesses in Skid Row to avoid the gentrification of Downtown LA.