LAPD Fatally Shoots Homeless Man
The Los Angeles Police Department is currently investigating the fatal shooting of a homeless man that occurred on Sunday, March 1.
Two officers and a sergeant shot the man after he tried to fight for another police officer’s weapon according to police Cmdr. Andrew Smith. The man was declared dead at the scene. The man’s identity has not been released, but witnesses say he went by the street name “Africa,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Police officers made their way to 5th and 6th streets on Sunday afternoon after receiving a call reporting a robbery, according to Smith’s account of the occurrence. Smith reported to the LA times that the officers approached Africa, and he “began fighting and physically resisting the officers.”
According to Smith, the officers tried to take the man into custody and later tried to use a Taser, but it was “ineffective.”
The video captured by a bystander shows Africa throwing punches at the police officers who tried to detain him. They dropped him to the ground as another officer charged at a woman who had picked up a baton off the ground.
According to the LA Times, an enhanced version of the video shows Africa reaching for the officer’s waistband before the three other officers fired at him.
Smith told the LA Times that investigators will use audio enhancing software on the video to determine what was said during the altercation. Investigators are also looking for additional footage that may have been captured by body cameras that the officers wore on Sunday.
During a news conference on Monday, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said that the officers involved in the shooting were “specially trained in dealing with homeless people and mental health issues” as part of the LAPD force that focuses on skid row.
A resident of that area, Ina Murphy, told the LA Times that Africa arrived in the area about 5 months ago after spending 10 years in a mental facility.
Several witnesses have conflicting accounts of the occurrence on Sunday.
An area resident said that people are allowed to sleep on the streets from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. and that the police had asked Africa to remove his tent several times that afternoon.
Another witness, Dennis Horne, said that the police arrived when Africa began fighting with someone inside his tent. Officers used a Taser on Africa and dragged him out of the tent after asking him to come out.
During a press conference on Monday, Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti said, “I don’t think you or I should judge tactics or whether a situation was done right or wrong before an investigation is done.”