Family demands answers after a mental health call leads to a fatal LAPD shooting

Attorneys representing the family of Tucker Smith, the black man who was shot and killed Los Angeles Police Department Officers, held a press conference on Friday after the department released body camera video of the fatal crash.

The family is demanding justice and accountability for Smith’s death. According to family members, his wife walked to the LAPD Rampart station to seek help because Smith was experiencing a mental health crisis. She said she showed the officers a video of Smith and said he was home alone during his mental health crisis. She said she was then given a phone number to call.

It appears that officers later responded to the apartment and spoke with Smith for about 15 minutes.

Bodycam video shows Smith defensively wielding a chair and bicycle, but it’s the kitchen knife that turns the situation around for him.

The officers used pepper spray and several tasers to take control. Smith dropped the knife but when he went to get it again the officer fired.

Family attorney Eric Valenzola said Smith was on his knees and not confronting officers when he was fatally shot.

“Officers chose to escalate when they were supposed to de-escalate, which led to the completely unjustified use of lethal force and the death of Takar,” said Clive Smith of the Coalition for Community Control of Police.

The coalition is calling for LA County DA George Gascón to prosecute the responsible officers and asking the city and mayor Karen Bass to cover the financial expenses for a proper burial.

Takar Smith (Courtesy of Shamika Smith)

During the press conference on Friday, the family said they couldn’t believe how a simple call for help led to Takar’s death.

“They really let me down,” Takar said. “I never knew that by going to the police they wouldn’t help me and they just let me down and I’m so hurt. My husband was a great man, he just needed help.” Shamika Smith’s wife.

“He needed help,” his mother said emotionally, “he just needed help and that’s what they were supposed to come in and do, not shoot him like that.”

“He needed help and it looks like we called the wrong people for help,” Takar’s brother added.

(Courtesy of Shamika Smith)

Takar has six children, ages 21 to 8.

The press conference comes on the heels of the death of another black man Los Angeles Police officers.

Kenan Anderson31, died in hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest as a result of being struck by a previous stroke Los Angeles Police Earlier this month after a car accident in West Los Angeles Venice alive.

Anderson and Smith are two of the three people who have died in cases involving the Los Angeles Police so far this year. Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore on Wednesday promised a thorough investigation into the deaths.

Officials say Oscar Leon Sanchez was the third man to die at the hands of the military Los Angeles Police this year.

Moore said he was concerned that in all three cases, the suspects were all suffering from some type of mental disorder, but the department’s mental health intervention team had not been called.

“Our mental assessment unit that we’ve invested heavily in to be a 24-hour-a-day call center, and the expectation is that that kind of information will lead to a consultation,” Moore said.

Mayor Karen Bass issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying her “heart breaks for the families and loved ones who are mourning the loss of Tucker Smith, Kenan Anderson And Oscar Sanchez.”

Related: Keenan Anderson: Body camera video shows LAPD arrest using Taser on man involved in Venice incident

“Full investigations are ongoing, and I pledge that the City’s investigations into these deaths will be transparent and will reflect the values ​​of Los Angeles,” Bass said. “I will ensure that the city’s investigations will only lead toward truth and accountability. Furthermore, the officers involved must be placed on immediate leave.

“Regardless of what these investigations determine, the need for urgent change is clear. We must limit the use of force in general, and I have zero tolerance for excessive force. We must also lead our city forward – finally – the mental health crisis that has been allowed to growing, aggravating, and causing a lot of harm to Angelenos, their families, and our communities.”

The City News Service contributed to this report.

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