L.A. Now

Family of Venice homeless man fatally shot by LAPD files wrongful death lawsuits

The family of an unarmed homeless man fatally shot by a Los Angeles police officer in Venice Beach last year filed wrongful-death lawsuits Tuesday against the LAPD and city in connection with the killing, attorneys for the family announced.

Attorneys representing Brendon Glenn's family also called on LAPD Chief Charlie Beck to immediately discipline the officer who fatally shot the 29-year-old and release surveillance footage from a nearby building that captured the deadly encounter.

"Doesn't Brendon's family, don't the people of Los Angeles have a right to see that video?" said attorney James DeSimone.

The move came weeks after Beck publicly said he had recommended that prosecutors file criminal charges against the officer, Clifford Proctor, who shot Glenn.

Beck said that LAPD investigators determined Glenn was lying on the ground trying to push himself up when Proctor stepped back and fired twice, hitting him in the back. Proctor's partner told investigators he did not know why the officer shot Glenn, the chief said.

Proctor's attorney said his client opened fire because Glenn reached for his partner’s weapon. Beck said investigators concluded Glenn wasn't trying to take either officer's weapon.

Attorneys for Glenn's family said lawsuits were filed in state and federal courts. The family is seeking unspecified damages. 

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey is still weighing whether to prosecute Proctor in the shooting, but such charges are rare in Los Angeles. Her office has not charged a law enforcement officer in an on-duty shooting since 2001.

The shooting generated fierce criticism of the LAPD and came two months after another controversial killing involving the LAPD and a homeless man. A video of that shooting on skid row went viral, drawing outrage, but the city Police Commission ruled last week that officers did not violate LAPD policy on using deadly force when they killed 43-year-old Charly Leundeu Keunang.

Last year's deadly encounter in Venice began shortly before midnight on May 5, when Proctor and his partner responded to a report that a homeless man -- later identified as Glenn -- was harassing customers outside a building near the Venice Boardwalk.

The officers had a brief conversation with Glenn and returned to their car. But soon after, police say, Glenn was seen struggling with a bouncer outside a bar, sparking a physical altercation between Glenn and the officers that ended with the shooting. 

Proctor failed to give Glenn any verbal warnings that he was going to shoot or use force against the man, the lawsuit alleged. The suit also alleges that Proctor and his partner did not have reason to detain or arrest Glenn since he was “starting to leave” the area outside the bar when the officers confronted him.

John Raphling, another attorney representing the family, accused the department of aggressively policing homeless people along the beach and on skid row. That, he said, helped set the stage for Glenn's death.

Raphling complained that the department treats homeless people "as though they are less than human."

Citing the fatal shootings of Glenn and Keunang, Police Commission President Matt Johnson announced Tuesday that he was forming a sub-committee focused on LAPD interactions with homeless Angelenos. The goal, he said, was to make sure LAPD practices align with City Hall efforts to reduce homelessness and that "officers respect the rights and dignity of homeless persons while at the same time promoting effective public safety."

An LAPD spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit. An attorney representing Proctor defended his client’s actions, saying both officers “acted within policy” during the deadly encounter.

“We’ll let the judicial system take its course and see what happens,” attorney Larry Hanna said.

Glenn was survived by his mother, sister and a 4-year-old son living in New York, DeSimone said. He came to work with a friend in California, picking up work refurbishing houses in San Diego and on a sustainable farm in Northern California before coming to Los Angeles. Glenn had lived in the Venice area for about two months before he was killed, DeSimone said.

Friends on the boardwalk knew Glenn as "Dizzle," a friendly man who doted upon his black Labrador mix.

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT and @katemather for crime and police news in Southern California.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

6:17 p.m.: This story was updated with information about the creation of a Police Commission subcommittee focused on LAPD interaction with homeless people.

4:51 p.m.: This story was updated with more details from the press conference and court filings.

1:38 p.m.: This story was updated with more information from an attorney representing Brendon Glenn's family.

This story was originally published at 1:02 p.m.

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