Los Angeles police shot and killed a homeless man during a confrontation that was captured on video Sunday morning in the Skid Row area of downtown, officials and witnesses said.
Officers were dispatched to the area of East Sixth Street and South San Pedro Street (map) about 11:36 a.m., said Officer Jack Richter, spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Richter said police went to the location after a call of an altercation between two people. In a later news conference at the scene, LAPD Sgt. Barry Montgomery said the officers were investigating a report of a robbery.
On Sunday evening, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith told reporters that when the officers arrived “they saw the individual they believed was a suspect and attempted to take him into custody.”
A struggle ensued, during which police used a Taser on the man several times in an unsuccessful effort to subdue him, Smith said.
“It became a struggle over one of the officer’s weapons,” the commander said, referring to a firearm.
The man was then shot by police, Smith said. It was unknown how many times he was struck. Shortly afterward, he was pronounced dead at the scene by Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics. Authorities have not released his name.
Some of the responding officers were members of the LAPD’s Safer Cities Initiative, whose personnel are equipped with body cameras, Smith said.
“So we believe there may have been body cameras there but obviously we … haven’t downloaded any of the footage yet,” he said.
A video of the incident, recorded by a bystander, was posted on Facebook about two hours after the shooting. It had been viewed more than 3.8 million times by 11 p.m.
A man in the video, apparently an officer, is heard yelling during the scuffle: “Drop the gun. Drop the gun. He has a gun.” Police then open fire.
Witness Yolanda Young said the homeless man “had three Tasers on him” during the confrontation.
“He was down but then he jumped up, like he was juiced up, and then he started swinging at the police and they were fighting him back. … They shot him five times,” Young said.
Another witness, Tonya Edwards, said she knew the man who was killed and that he had “a lot of mental issues.”
In accordance with protocol, the officers involved in the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation, Smith said. After a 72-hour review, he said, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck will decide whether they will be returned to duty.
Hours after the incident, dozens of LAPD personnel remained at the taped-off scene.
“It’s going to be a long investigation and we will, you know, get to the bottom of it,” Montgomery said.