LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Police Protective League defended the actions of officers involved in three fatal incidents since the new year in a letter to the City Council today, instead accusing the three men who were killed of escalating the situations.
Keenan Anderson, Takar Smith and Oscar Leon Sanchez have died after encounters with LAPD since Jan. 2, sparking criticism. Anderson went into cardiac arrest and died on Jan. 3 after Los Angeles police tased and shackled him following a traffic collision. Police fatally shot Smith on Jan. 2 and Sanchez on Jan. 3.
The letter, sent from the board of directors of the union that represents LAPD officers, claimed the officers ``engaged in de-escalation tactics that embodied the best practices of attempting to build rapport, calmly engaging the suspects to attempt to secure compliance and reduce the likelihood of any use of force.''
It continues: ``The suspects escalated each of these incidents, not the responding officers.'' The letter responded to concerns from some city officials that mental health professionals were not called to the scene by claiming that the LAPD's Mental Evaluation Unit would not have been assigned as the first responders to any of the three incidents. The union said that none of the incidents was a``mental health'' call for service, but ``rather violations of the law that were addressed.''
``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,'' Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement after the incidents.
The letter also pushed back against Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson's proposal to provide an alternative to policing for addressing traffic stops.
``If I run a red light, I should not be confronted by a government worker with a deadly weapon,'' Harris-Dawson said at a briefing outside City Hall earlier this week with family members of Anderson. ``There's just no reason for it. And there are far too many bodies in graves, far too many lost loved ones to demonstrate the point.
The union's letter said Harris-Dawson's proposal was ``conflating the enforcement of traffic laws with police responding to a traffic accident where a suspect was fleeing the accident'' and wishing to ``legalize fleeing a car crash and eliminating the police from enforcing traffic laws.''