Warning: This video is graphic and has foul language. View with discretion.
On Sunday, LAPD responded to a call about a robbery that occurred near the an area frequently populated by the homeless known as Skid Row. Officers questioned one of the homeless men, known by his street name, Africa. The man had been living in a tent in the area for several months after he was ejected from a mental health facility. A struggle ensued between the man and police. The man was shot several times and was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to Reuters, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement that the man in question was a robbery suspect who began fighting with officers as they tried to take him into custody. It said he continued to resist arrest, even as officers tried to subdue him with a Taser electric stun gun, and they fell to the sidewalk.
“While on the ground, the suspect and officers struggled over one of the officer’s handguns and then an officer-involved shooting occurred,” the department said. Paramedics pronounced the suspect dead at the scene. Two of the officers were treated for minor injuries.
A bystander videotaped the incident and uploaded the video onto You Tube and shared it on Facebook. The video has been viewed over five million times on Facebook alone.
Mashable reported that the LAPD said that they were investigating the incident. Steve Soboroff, President of the Police Commission, said in a tweet there would be “thorough investigations” by the police department and its Inspector General “proceeding simultaneously.”
Activists have called on the Police Commission to hold a special hearing on use of force by officers in Skid Row encounters. The officers involved in the shooting were part of a unit specially trained to police the homeless.
A small group of demonstrators gathered at the location Sunday night to protest the fatal shooting of the homeless man.
An estimated 1,700 of L.A.’s homeless live in the Skid Row neighborhood and many of them struggle with mental illness and addiction.
As reported on Mashable, one woman who told Fox 11 News that she witnessed the shooting said, “He didn’t have no weapon. They could have just wrestled him down.” On the video officers can be heard yelling at the man to “drop the gun.”
Twitter lit up in response to the shooting.
The officer shooting the homeless man in downtown LA is one of the most disturbing videos I’ve ever seen…..
— Ishe Oluwa Kamau Ali (@IsheSugarShay) March 2, 2015
police men in LA killed a homeless black man today. he was unarmed and they beat him up before shooting him 5 times. #BlackLivesMatter — oomi (@umawrnkl) March 2, 2015
“officer involved shooting” in #downtown#LA today smh… Let’s just call it what it really is…Homeless Man Murdered By LAPD.
— Rich (@raw4president) March 2, 2015
Read more about the shooting by clicking here.