On Sunday, an apparently homeless man was shot and killed by Los Angeles police as he resisted attempts to subdue him. LAPD spokesman Sgt. Barry Montgomery said around noon the police arrived in response to a robbery call on 911. Montgomery said that LAPD officers used a Taser, although it was unclear whether the man, whose street nickname was “Africa,” was struck by the Taser.
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One witness, Dennis Horne, 29, said that prior to the arrival of police, “Africa” was fighting someone in the tent he lived in. Another witness, Jose Gil, 38 , said he the homeless man was swinging at the police, and Gil heard one of the officers say, “Gun, gun, he’s got my gun!” before shots were fired.
Cmdr. Andrew Smith told the Los Angeles Times that the police who responded to the call came from the LAPD’s Central Division and Safer Cities Initiative, which was designed to deal with skid row. He said once the police arrived, the homeless man “began fighting and physically resisting the officers.” When the police tried to arrest him, they tried to tase him, but Smith said the Taser was “ineffective.”
Smith continued that during the scuffle, the officers and the man fell down. He added, “At some point in there, a struggle over one of the officer’s weapons occurred. At that point an officer-involved shooting happened.”
Smith offered additional details: two officers and a sergeant fired at the man, who died at the scene; no other gun was found at the scene, but police have not yet determined whether the homeless man had any weapons; police are still investigating. He also said police do not know whether the man was indeed homeless as has been speculated. Two officers suffered injuries in the incident.
Smith said a woman who picked up a baton one of the officers had dropped will be arrested. He also said a video of the incident will be examined using audio enhancement software to ascertain what was said during the incident. He also said that police will examine any other video found that showed the incident.
Of course we’re aware of the video. Any video that shows someone losing their life in an altercation with police is going to be disturbing. It’s disturbing for police officers to watch. It’s always tragic when there’s a loss of life in one of these situations. It’s not an incident taken lightly by any police officer. But we are committed to everyone involved and to the public to conduct a thorough and complete investigation.