Deaths of 3 men involved in separate encounters with LAPD prompts release of bodycam video

ByRob Hayes KABC logo
Friday, January 13, 2023
LAPD releases bodycam video amid concerns over deaths of 3 suspects
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said he's concerned about a trio of use-of-force incidents involving officers that left three suspects dead in the first three days of the new year.

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles police chief said Wednesday he is concerned about two recent fatal police shootings, including one where officers failed to call for a specially-trained mental health team during an interaction with a man in crisis.

Chief Michel Moore said Wednesday that he is "deeply concerned" by the deaths of those men, as well as a third, over two days - two fatally shot by officers and one who went into cardiac arrest hours after police used a stun gun on him during a struggle.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office is still investigating the cases of Keenan Anderson, the cardiac arrest patient who is related to a Black Lives Matter co-founder, and Oscar Sanchez. The office has not yet ruled on the cause and manner of their deaths. Both died on Jan. 3.

Takar Smith's death was ruled a homicide by gunshot wounds, which is standard procedure following fatal police shootings.

LAPD also released bodycam video from those cases, well ahead of the typical 45-day deadline.

WATCH: Mayor Bass speaks out on 'devastating' bodycam footage of recent LAPD use-of-force encounters

L.A. Mayor Karen Bass echoed LAPD Chief Michel Moore's concerns over three recent deadly use-of-force encounters involving officers.

In the first case, officers were called to a Westlake home. The man there - 40-year-old Takar Smith - was said to suffer from schizophrenia and had a restraining order against him. The video shows officers shot him as he threatened them with a butcher knife.

But Moore says he has questions about how his department handled the family's initial call for help.

"At no point during this call was our mental evaluation unit called for assistance or support, or one of our systemwide mental assessment teams, also known as SMART," Moore said.

The next day, LAPD officers from the Newton Division responded to a man who threw a metal object at a passing car, then threatened the driver with a knife.

When they arrived, that man identified as Oscar Sanchez, went into an abandoned building and then confronted officers with a homemade weapon.

The bodycam video in this case was blocked by a police shield the officer was using.

"Sanchez was observed holding a two and a half foot long metal, makeshift spear and advanced toward the officers. An officer-involved-shooting occurred," Moore said.

That same day an officer responded to a traffic crash near Venice Boulevard and Lincoln.

The man who caused the wreck - Keenan Anderson - was running around in the middle of the street and acting erratically.

When he resisted arrest, a Taser was used and he was taken into custody.

Moore says paramedics checked Anderson out at the scene and took him to a hospital, as is protocol after a Taser incident. Four hours later though, Anderson developed problems and died at the hospital.

"The Los Angeles Police Department Forensic Science Division did a blood screen. Mr. Anderson's specimens tested positive for cocaine and cannabis," Moore said.

The three deadly use of force cases are drawing criticism.

Anti-police violence protesters say the deaths could have easily been avoided.

"We have mental health workers that respond to mental health crises. They don't need cops with guns," Black Lives Matter organizer Melina Abdullah said.

Moore says he expedited the release of the videos so family members and the public could see what happened.

The shootings came in the days after Moore applied for a second five-year term as the head of the police department. The city's new mayor, Karen Bass, has not yet said whether she supports Moore's reappointment, which will be voted on by the five-member civilian police commission. The City Council can overrule the commission's decision with 10 veto votes.

The department has been criticized in recent years for a rise in police shootings, as well as other high-profile failures.

Bass echoed Moore's concerns and called the videos of all three incidents "deeply disturbing."

"Especially as a former health care professional, I am deeply troubled that mental health experts were not called in, even when there was a documented history of past mental health crisis," Bass said in a statement, addressing Smith's death. "When there is no immediate risk to others, law enforcement must not be the first responder when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis. I believe officers and Angelenos agree on this."

Black Lives Matter supporters protested the officers' actions in Anderson's death outside the LAPD headquarters on Wednesday as Moore held his news conference inside.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.