A homeless man who was injured in a Venice police shooting after a call about a disturbance Wednesday afternoon was "belligerent and loud," but "harmless," said a witness who allowed the man to stay on his property.
Jack Susser, told KTLA on Thursday that he was "surprised" by the officers' use of force against the man, who he identified only as John. He said he tried to tell police several times that John was on drugs, had been drinking and was agitated, but they did not listen.
“I was a little disappointed that they showed such force at the beginning and they got out of the car with all weapons drawn," Susser said. "I was surprised that so many officers couldn’t handle an unarmed man except with weapons."
LAPD officers were called to an alleyway at Thornton Court and Pacific Avenue about 5:40 p.m. for a call about a man screaming.
Responding officers found the man armed with "unknown objects." On Thursday, police said he was holding a three-foot wooden plank.
After talking to the man and attempting to deescalate the situation, police shot him, officials said.
Susser said police tried to use a Taser on John, but it did not work. He later heard three shots fired. The man was taken to a hospital and suffered injuries that were not life threatening.
Susser told KTLA that he allowed John to stay on his property for the last year. He said he had not caused any problems until recently, when he saw him doing drugs.
On the day of the shooting, Susser said John was acting erratically, running and screaming down the alleyway. He tried to calm him down before police were called to the scene. Susser said John was not armed before police got to the scene, but he saw him break a glass bottle and later grab it by the neck. He added that John did not lunge or act aggressively toward the officers, but that officers might have gotten nervous when John began rummaging through his stuff on the ground.
"The sirens, the helicopter came from above, flying very very low," Susser said describing the scene. "Of course, that’s very nerve racking to anyone." He added that "hostility" grew between John and the police before the shooting occurred.
Susser said he was trying to get help for John, and had even set up an appointment with a social worker later this week.
He said John had a job and was always "peaceful and friendly."
Police on Thursday provided no additional details the shooting.