Officers were called to downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row Sunday morning regarding a possible robbery. Warning: The video contains violence and language.
1. A homeless man was shot and killed by Los Angeles police Sunday — and the incident was caught on video by a bystander — on Skid Row after officers responded to a robbery in the area.
A video uploaded to Facebook shows officers responding to a robbery call and arguing with two people. Two officers pull one person away. The other officers, who are farther from the camera, surround a man.
The Los Angeles Police Department said the robbery suspect began fighting the officers and resisting arrest. At one point an officer punches the man to the ground. The officers attempted to use a taser, but the suspect continued fighting, according to a statement released by the LAPD. During the altercation, the man and the officers struggled over one of the officer’s handguns.
“Drop the gun,” officers shout several times with their own guns drawn. About five shots can be heard on the video.
Anthony Blackburn, the man who recorded the shooting, told CNN that he didn’t see the homeless person reaching out for an officer’s gun, contradicting the police’s version of events. “Why didn’t they simply “shoot the man in the leg?” Blackburn said. “He’s already on the ground.”
Paramedics responded and pronounced the victim dead at the scene. Two officers were treated for minor injuries and released. Witness also began shouting that they did not believe the man who was shot was armed.
LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith told CNN that the man was unarmed. “I don’t know what they found on this individual,” Smith said. “Obviously he didn’t have a firearm.”
Witnesses identified the man by his street name, “Africa,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Witnesses said he had been living in a tent on Skid Row for several months and had spent some time in a mental health facility.
There have been 12 fatal officer-involved incidents in downtown Los Angeles since 2000, according to the Times.
The LAPD’s specialized Force Investigative Division is collecting evidence and will interview witnesses as part of their investigation to determine whether the use of deadly force was consistent with the department’s policies. In addition to the video posted on Facebook, LAPD Sgt. Barry Montgomery said there could be video from two surveillance cameras from buildings at the scene.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney will also review the incident.