Disturbing Video Shows LAPD Officers Fatally Shooting Man On Skid Row
A video taken on Skid Row Sunday afternoon shows LAPD officers tussling with a homeless man before fatally shooting him.
The man who witnesses identify by his street name "Africa" was shot by police around noon and declared dead at a hospital shortly after the shooting, the Los Angeles Times reported. The shooting happened near the intersection of 5th and San Pedro, the heart of Skid Row.
The scene was captured by Anthony Blackburn on a cell phone camera and uploaded to Facebook where it's been viewed over a million times. Be warned: the video is disturbing though not bloody, and there's lots of profanity:
Update 3/2: The Facebook video has since been taken down but here's a copy:
It's a disturbing, chaotic scene. Africa is already engaged in a fight with police when the video begins. There are four officers at the scene that attempt to wrestle him to the ground. Two more officers rush in to assist. Then two officers break away to chase after a woman picks up a nightstick one of the officers dropped. They shove her to the ground before picking her back up and handcuffing her. In the background, officers continue to struggle with Africa but it's difficult to tell exactly what's happening. There's a sound of a taser (whether it hit Africa isn't clear). It sounds like one of the officers is shouting "Drop the gun! Drop the gun!" Then five shots are fired, and Africa's body goes limp. The other officers at the scene draw their guns.
Bystanders begin yelling at officers demanding an explanation for the shooting: "Why'd y'all shoot that man?" Police draw their nightsticks and then push the angry crowd away from the scene of the shooting to put up crime scene tape.
Police have not formally identified the man, said how many shots were fired, how many bullets hit him or how many officers fired their guns. One LAPD spokesman Officer Jack Richter told KTLA that they responded to a call of an altercation between two men around 11:36 a.m. in the 500 block of San Pedro Street. Another LAPD officer from the Central Division Dave Romero said police received several calls simultaneously saying there was robbery and battery shortly just outside the Union Rescue Mission at 545 San Pedro Street.
The Times spoke to witnesses and neighbors to try to piece together what happened before the shooting. Ina Murphy, who lives nearby, said when Africa arrived to Skid Row four or five months ago, he told her that he had been released from a mental health facility. Another resident who identified himself as Booker T. Washington said police had repeatedly asked Africa to take down his tent. Under a court agreement, Skid Row residents have to pack up their tents between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. every day. Washington said, "This man got shot over a tent."
Dennis Horne told the Times that Africa had been fighting with someone else in his tent when police arrived. When Africa refused to comply after police ordered him out, they fired a Taser at him and dragged him out. That's when the fight ensued between police and Africa. Horne said, "It's sad. There's no justification to take somebody's life."
One witness who didn't want to be identified said he saw Africa reach for an officer's gun. Another Jose Gil told the Times that he heard one of the officers say, "Gun, gun, he's got my gun!" before they fired at him.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has only said he's not ready to comment on the case:
Update: There's a protest scheduled at Pershing Square at 9 p.m. tonight.