Photos by Stephanie Rivera.
The family of a man once known as “Mr. Athletic” and described as a gentle person suffering from a mental disorder announced legal action against the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD), three months after police fatally shot the man officials said was armed with a knife.
Attorneys representing the parents of 39-year-old Carson resident Mharloun Saycon said during a Thursday press conference that they filed a claim for damages against the city that morning, stating unlawful conduct by police who shot Saycon multiple times after tasering him and striking him with a baton.
The tort claim filed with the City of Long Beach is the initial step of a $20 million civil rights lawsuit in which attorneys are also asking for an investigation by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and U.S. Department of Justice.
“This was a cop-created killing; this was murder by cops and we are here to make demands,” Attorney Dan Stormer said.
According to LBPD officials, officers responded to a call of a man with a knife at the Looff’s Lite-A-Line Casino Game of Skill on Long Beach Boulevard at East 25th Street the night of Monday, December 14, 2015.
Officers then received an update stating the suspect “was now waving the knife around inside the business, and some customers left in fear of their safety,” LBPD officials stated.
Police arrived on scene within minutes and found the suspect seated in a chair and still armed with a knife, according to the LBPD. After the suspect failed to comply with orders to drop the knife officers then “deployed less lethal options,” including a taser and baton. When those methods did not work an officer-involved shooting occurred.
Police and Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) personnel rendered aid but Saycon was pronounced dead at the scene.
Attorneys at the conference, however, presented a different story.
“It is with great sadness and more than a little outrage that I am here today," Stormer said. “It is the second time I have been in front of a group like yourselves, in front of this building, where the Long Beach Police Department have, in cold blood, shot an innocent person who posed no threat to them or anyone else.”
According to Stormer, Looff’s employees called police so they could get Saycon psychological help after witnessing unusual behavior from their regular customer.
“We know that when they arrived they arrived and came in with their guns drawn,” Stormer told reporters. “We know from the time they arrived, until the time they killed him in cold blood, that it was less than two minutes [...] we know from virtually every witness who could see that the little pen knife he was holding was closed. We know that from the time they arrived to the time that they brutally killed him he never even stood up. We know that the entire time he was seated and he was calm and he was emotionally and mentally out of it.”
Stormer said police shot Saycon repeatedly eight times into his chest, arm and abdomen.
According to Saycon’s younger brother Khanly Saycon, the Philippines-born man was diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia in his early 20s and subsequently received medication for his imbalance. During the 15 years of dealing with this illness, Khanly said Mharloun worked closely with doctors and counselors and participated in the community at R.O.A.D.S. Rehab in Compton where he was known as the grillmaster. They met with his life coach the day he died.
“He was a kind gentleman, a wonderful son,” Mharloun’s mother Anna Luz Saycon said.
Anna Luz said Mharloun would have hiccups every couple of years but that he was a good person.
“He was my son; he didn’t deserve this,” the mother said. “We don’t want police to do this to another family. We want justice for my son.”
LBPD officials declined to comment on the incident citing pending litigation. According to LBPD spokesman Brad Johnson, the officer involved in the shooting is “working in full status as they are assigned to the patrol bureau.”
The family’s attorneys said they are in the process of obtaining the 9-1-1 calls and video footage from the incident.
The incident was one of nine officer-involved shootings in Long Beach in 2015.