CRIME
03/30/2015 12:19 pm ET Updated Mar 30, 2015

Man Killed By Police On L.A.'s Skid Row Had Studied Physics, Wanted To Be Actor - LA Times

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 19:  A crowd gathers for the public memorial for Charly Leundeu Keunang in the Skid Row neighborhood
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 19: A crowd gathers for the public memorial for Charly Leundeu Keunang in the Skid Row neighborhood March 19, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Keunang was the homeless man shot and killed on March 1 during a struggle with the police. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Heleine Tchayou was watching television in her Malden, Mass., home when video appeared of Los Angeles police shooting and killing an unarmed, homeless man on skid row.

It wasn't until his photograph was released that Tchayou realized the man who lay dying on the pavement 2,900 miles away was her son, a family friend said.

Charly Leundeu Keunang, 43, had been a man without a home, a country or even a real name. His story seemed preposterous: A Cameroonian national, would-be actor and convicted bank robber, he stole a Frenchman's identity and did time under his name in a U.S. prison psychiatric facility.

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