News & Politics

Extremely Graphic Video: L.A. Police Shoot Unarmed Homeless Man in Broad Daylight

There was an altercation, but was lethal force the only option?

Photo Credit: via YouTube

Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department were captured on cellphone video shooting and killing a homeless man in the skid row area Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In the video, at least four officers are seen tussling with the man and they all eventually fall to the ground where the struggle continues.

Twenty-five seconds into the video, at least five shots are heard and the officers are seen standing up with their guns pointed at the motionless body of the man, who has yet to be identified. A taser can be heard being discharged during the struggle but it is unclear if it hit its intended target.

Commander Andrew Smith says the officers were called to the scene after responding to a 911 call over a robbery. The man began fighting and resisting the officers, he said.

"At some point in there, a struggle over one of the officer's weapons occurred," Smith said. "At that point an officer-involved shooting happened."

Two cops and a sergeant fired at the man; he was pronounced dead at the scene. At least one of the officers involved in the shooting was wearing a camera, Smith said.

Witnesses on the scene gave conflicting accounts of what happened, according The Times. They referred to him as “Africa.”

This is some of what the witnesses said, according to The L.A. Times:

Dennis Horne, 29, said Africa had been fighting with someone else in his tent when police arrived.

When Africa refused to comply with a police order to come out of the tent, officers used the Taser on him and dragged him out, Horne said. The officers tackled Africa to the ground, where he continued to fight, which led to the fatal shooting, according to Horne.

“It's sad,” Horne said. “There's no justification to take somebody's life.”

Another witness, Lonnie Franklin, 53, said five to six officers pulled up in three to four cars as Africa was lying face down on the sidewalk.

The officers approached with guns drawn yelling, ”Down, down,” according to Franklin. When Africa got up and started fighting, the officers “went straight to lethal force,” Franklin said.

But Jose Gil, 38 , said he saw the man swinging at the police and then heard one of the officers say, “Gun, gun, he's got my gun!” before police fired multiple shots.

The LAPD is currently investigating the shooting.

Yannick Babou, 34, a vendor who works on skid row, joined a group of people at Pershing Square to protest the shooting, which began around 9:30 p.m. Sunday night.

"I'm not anti-police. I think we need police in society," Babou said. "But I think we need to hold police accountable when they do something wrong."

Since 2000, there have been 12 fatal police-involved shootings in downtown Los Angeles, according to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times. There were none in 2014 and one in 2015 before the skid row shooting.

Watch the extremely graphic cellphone video of the shooting below:

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior editor at AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @Russian_Starr.

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