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Criminal Justice

LAPD Union Pushes Back On Criticism From Their Own Chief In Case Of Killing

A video screen shot from the body-worn camera footage of the fatal LAPD shooting of Takar Smith. An officer's arm is in frame. The officer points a gun at Smith, who wears a red t-shirt and is on the floor of a kitchen area.
A screen shot from the body-worn camera footage of the fatal LAPD shooting of Takar Smith.
(Courtesy LAPD)
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The Los Angeles Police Protective League —the union for rank and file LAPD officers, or LAPPL— is pushing back on criticism from Chief Michel Moore in the case of a man fatally shot by an officer.

The backstory

An LAPD officer fatally shot Takar Smith while the 45-year-old father of six was experiencing a mental health crisis on Jan. 2nd. Smith allegedly armed himself with a knife before an officer opened fire.

In an audio released last week, Smith’s wife clearly lets dispatchers know that her husband is off his medication and lives with schizophrenia.

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Reaction from officials

Takar Smith's family comes together for a photo outside LAPD headquarters on Friday, January 13. Smith's niece, Rashi wears a purple hoodie. His brother, Raischard, wears glasses and a plaid shirt. Raischard has his hand on their mother, Alicia Smith, who wears a blue shirt that has an image of Takar on it.
Takar Smith's niece, Rashi Smith (left), standing next to Smith's brother, Raischard Smith; Smith's mother, Alicia Smith, is sitting on the walker.
(Robert Garrova / LAist)

  • Mayor Karen Bass and other elected officials have raised concerns about this police killing.
  • Moore asked why one of the LAPD’s specially trained mental evaluation teams were not called to the scene. Those teams — made up of an armed officer and a mental health clinician – have the goal of calming the agitated person.

Police rank-and-file response

Debbie Thomas, director of the Police Protective League, said officers followed protocol. She said of the chief's position: “I hope he will reconsider what he said.”

Craig Lally, LAPPL president, sent a letter to Mayor Bass and the LA City Council this week addressing the fatal shootings of Smith and Oscar Leon Sanchez and the in-custody death of Keenan Anderson. Anderson died after officers repeatedly tased him in the space of about 30 seconds.

Lally wrote to Bass: “The suspects escalated each of these incidents, not the responding officers."

What’s next

The family of Takar Smith and Oscar Leon Sanchez intend to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

What questions do you have about mental health in SoCal?
One of my goals on the mental health beat is to make the seemingly intractable mental health care system more navigable.