Graphic footage of an officer-involved shooting that left one man dead has many people asking questions about whether the use of force was justified, including several eye witnesses.
Anthony Blackburn, the man who recorded the incident Sunday, believes that the Los Angeles Police went too far in their effort to restrain a robbery suspect, known in the community as “Africa” or “Brother Africa,” who is also believed to be a homeless man.
Why didn’t the officers “shoot the man in the leg? He’s already on the ground,” Anthony Blackburn told CNN.
After responding to a robbery call near the Union Rescue Mission in L.A.’s dilapidated Skid Row neighborhood, officers from the LAPD’s Central Division and Safer Cities Initiative confronted the suspect.
LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith told the L.A. Times that after making contact with the suspect, he “began fighting and physically resisting the officers.” Attempts to subdue the suspect with a Taser where “ineffective,” according to Smith.
“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.”
In watching the video, it appears there were five shots fired. Though, that has yet to be confirmed. Smith did however clarify that two officers and a sergeant discharged their weapons.
The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.
As to the question of whether the suspect was armed, Smith told CNN, “I don’t know what they found on this individual. Obviously he didn’t have a firearm.”
Dennis Horne, 29, told the L.A. Times that Africa was fighting with someone over his tent when police arrived. Horne said that Africa refused to leave the tent when officers instructed him to, which precipitated the altercation.
“It’s sad,” Horne said. “There’s no justification to take somebody’s life.”
Police said the will be conducting a thorough investigation, examining all available evidence, especially the video footage.
“Of course we’re aware of the video,” said Smith. “Any video that shows someone losing their life in an altercation with police is going to be disturbing. It’s disturbing for police officers to watch.”
“It’s always tragic when there’s a loss of life in one of these situations,” Smith continued. “It’s not an incident taken lightly by any police officer. But we are committed to everyone involved and to the public to conduct a thorough and complete investigation.”