LAPD Fire Beanbags And Taser At Homeless Man In Wheelchair
The LAPD is facing criticism for using a Taser and bean bag rounds on a homeless man in a wheelchair who police claim was swinging a pole at them.
A video released Monday shows LAPD officers firing bean bags and a Taser at a homeless man who the police claim tried to hit them with a pole. The footage of the encounter—which took place on Friday in downtown L.A. near Broadway and 3rd St.—is drawing criticism from Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN), a skid row advocacy group, who argues that officers escalated force against someone who didn't pose a significant threat, according to the L.A. Times. Pete White of LA CAN explains, "It didn't appear that they were seriously worried about their safety. It was easy enough to approach and have a conversation with a man in a wheelchair."
The video of the incident shows ten officers clustered around the man in the wheelchair, identified as 43-year-old Christopher Adam Zareck. The officers are standing roughly five to ten feet from Zareck and shouting between them can be heard. Then, a series of three shots are fired by the officers, while Zareck, still seated in the wheelchair, kicks his legs in the air and screams. The officers then move in and appear to subdue the man further using a Taser. The pole that LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said Zarack swung at the officers cannot be seen in the video. Following the encounter, Zarack was treated at a nearby hospital and arrested for assault with a deadly weapon.
The video was filmed by Hubert Jackson, a homeless Skid Row resident, who gave the footage to LA CAN. Jackson described what he saw to the L.A. Times, "I hear a shot, then a second shot, and I hear the victim yelling in pain, as if gargling over something. Then there's a second pause and a third shot." Jackson said that he could not see if the man in the wheelchair was holding anything.
Another video filmed from above the incident and released by NBC shows the officer subduing Zareck. One officer in the scuffle appears to pull out and drop what looks like a pole. Another officer can be heard saying, "You're going to get it again."
4 THE FIRST TIME:Downtown showdown. Officers unleash their Tasers on a wheelchair-bound man.Video just in. What the suspect was allegedly doing and why officers tell us they had to fire!Tonight at 11 p.m. on NBC4 News.
Posted by NBC LA on Friday, July 17, 2015
The LAPD is investigating the incident, according to Smith, including the officers' use of less-than-lethal force. The officers were reportedly responding to a report that an employee of one of downtown L.A.'s business improvement districts had been in an altercation with a man in a wheelchair who tried to hit him with a pole. According to the L.A. Times, Zareck had been arrested earlier this year on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance. Prior to that, he had been sentenced to four years in state prison after he pled guilty in 2002 to driving under the influence and a hit-and-run in Orange County.
White believes the officers' tactics were unnecessary for confronting a man in a wheelchair, "Beanbags and Tasers, that could not be the only options. This is how you de-escalate when the man is just sitting there?"