The Community Coalition is devastated and disgusted that in 24 hours between Jan. 2 and Jan. 3, the lives of Keenan Anderson, Takar Smith, and Oscar Sanchez were taken from them. 

Three men, all men of color, all in need of assistance. All three dead after LAPD showed up at the scenes of their emergencies.

Keenan Anderson, a teacher visiting Los Angeles from Washington D.C., was involved in a car accident on January 3 at the intersection of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards. When law enforcement arrived, Keenan asked for help from the officer–having just been in a car accident. 

Frantic for help, Takar Smith’s wife walked to LAPD’s Rampart station asking for help because her husband was in the middle of a mental health crisis. She showed officers a video of her estranged husband’s behavior and told them she had a restraining order against him. She also let them know that he had schizophrenia and was not on his medication. 

Despite calls that Oscar Sanchez displayed signs of mental illness, the LAPD did not deploy their mental health unit alongside police. 

Instead of assistance, these men were tased, brutalized, terrorized, further traumatized, and murdered. Anderson was tased 10 times. Hours later, he was dead after going into cardiac arrest—presumably because he was tased repeatedly. 

Despite Takar Smith’s crisis, police arrived hours later at the Smith’s apartment without a Mental Evaluation Unit (MEU). MEUs consist of a social worker with officers. The body camera video shows police ordering Takar to “quit playing childish games” and “act like an adult.” He was fatally shot while on his knees, holding a kitchen knife.

Nearly a dozen armed cops confronted Oscar Sanchez as he fled into the abandoned house where he was living. He shut the door, and the police followed with guns drawn and a riot shield. Ten seconds after opening the door, Sanchez was shot by police.

It is time that “protect and serve” applies to all communities and residents. The Los Angeles Police Department must be held accountable when it does not utilize the training and protocols mandated, such as ensuring MEUs are part of the crisis-solving. 

Chief Moore, care first responses to mental health situations are essential to public safety — especially for people of color who are far more likely to experience deadly outcomes when interfacing with law enforcement.

Our Weekly coverage of local news in Los Angeles County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.

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