A Los Angeles police officer fatally shot a man last month in Westlake after the man threw a hammer at a group of officers who had followed him on foot for several blocks and fired hard foam projectiles at him, according to video of the incident.
The video footage, recorded by officers’ body-worn cameras and released on the Los Angeles Police Department’s YouTube channel last week, included radio chatter from early in the encounter. Officers discussed their belief that the man, later identified as Samuel Ponce, was mentally ill or intoxicated.
The video also captured a supervisor yelling out a barrage of orders to the officers — to tell Ponce in Spanish to drop the weapon, to shoot him with a projectile, to shoot him with a Taser, to aim better and shoot him again — as Ponce slowly walked away from the officers and appeared to beg God for help.
The video has raised new questions about the tactics deployed by the LAPD during such encounters. It comes at a time of growing consensus among city officials, top police brass and local activists that changes are needed in the way officers handle calls involving people showing signs of mental illness or substance abuse.
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