Witness of LAPD Shooting Homeless Suspect: ‘Why didn’t they shoot the man in the leg?’

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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.”

{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Max Hoyle April 21, 2017, 12:57 pm

    One question, who cares if he had an weapon? H was trying to take a cops weapon, which calls for stopping him! This quoted liberal could have been executed as basic witness removal had the brother africa taken the cops firearm! would that excuse killing him? Dumbass guy with camera!

  • Karl March 17, 2015, 2:26 pm

    I find most of these comments concerning the shooting to be pretty interesting, a lot of different view points! My feeling is and it has already been mentioned in the above comments, What is a police officer supposed to do? Lets remember that these PEOPLE have to face the things that all of us hope to NEVER face in our lives and Law enforcement does it potentially every day! The people that Law Enforcement deals with are NOT usually happy to see them and with every interaction the police have with people they need to be on guard and take serious precautions to keep themselves from potentially being killed! Does it seem over the TOP to some of us? MAYBE, but remember we dont live every day we go to work with THIS as a very real possibility!! Before we just start throwing out thoughts and inane ideas about shooting to WOUND? (seriously?) we need to think very clearly about what Law Enforcement lives with and possibly dies with every day! Oh and by the way I have taken more than a few handgun training classes and I have YET to attend a class that promotes itself as a SHOOT TO WOUND class! There is a REAL WORLD REASON FOR THAT!!

  • Robert March 11, 2015, 2:00 pm

    I don’t get it. When you fight with or resist the police, nothing good will happen. This seems a fairly basic concept, yet there are a large number of individuals that don’t understand this. My response to these situations is, of course he got shot. He was fighting with the police. That’s what happens when you fight with the police.

  • Russ March 11, 2015, 3:40 am

    ‘WHY DIDN’T THEY SHOOT THE MAN IN THE LEG?’

    1. To keep him from killing a good guy.
    2. So he doesn’t sue and suck off the American tit for the rest of his miserable life.
    3. To put him out of his misery humanly with no suffering.
    4. Because good guys don’t train to make bad shots.
    I could go on and on, but why?
    What a dumbass question.
    Line up assholes, keep fucking with the police.
    Get it over with.

  • Gay O March 10, 2015, 11:12 am

    I am not a Officer and I even know you aim center mass as not to miss and hit a bystander. If you have to shoot, you do not shoot to wound unfortunately.

  • Jwmuff March 9, 2015, 10:20 pm

    This all comes down to the DOJ hating all of us in the criminal justice system and making us the bad guys. They finally got their way and now cops are afraid to do their job because every knucklehead with a cellphone camera is going to record all police use of force incidents so everyone can Monday morning quarterback us. When you have a split second to make a decision that they can review and critique over and over is not fair. There is now way to remove the human element that all decisions are going to be correct all the time. Mistakes will be made. No one is perfect but those that make the mistake have to live with that and suffer the consequences. It’s funny how everything is made out to be a race issue when it works to the medias advantage but when it’s not advantageous, the media coveragage isn’t there. Why does race have to be an issue? The issue should be someone lost their life. Period. The media has not been covering the police officer killed in Philadelphia last week because it didn’t work to their advantage. He was a black officer killed by two scumbags that had prior convictions. Did I mention they were black also? Not that race should matter, but it didn’t work for the media so they could sensationalize it. Unfortunately the officers two sons will have to grow up without a father because he was standing in line in full uniform at a video store buying his 9 year old son a video game for getting good grades, when two armed men came in the store and started shooting when they saw him while trying to rob the store. He died after returning fire and being shot six times, the sixth and final shot in the head after engaging both armed suspects. The chief of police put it best, he died as a hero and a warrior.
    People that never worked in the criminal justice system can criticize cops all they want, but if you never had to “make that decision of what to do next” or dealt with that mentally ill person that won’t back down and you used all your less lethal options and you are in hand to hand struggle with them and they are getting the upper hand on you and your back up is at least 5-10 minutes away. What are you going to do after your used your tazer, pepper spray, baton -nothing worked and now this guy is beating the hell out you and you are in the fight for your life, if he takes your gun, he will kill you with it. What are you going to do now? Welcome to our world.
    Criticize all you want, I want to go home, but when the media reports it, he was unarmed. It doesn’t matter if he was twice your size as well as twice as strong and about to disarm you. You just shot an unarmed man.

  • mtman2 March 9, 2015, 7:44 pm

    It’s beyond “use of force”, that gets done to a child for lying.
    Quote- “It’s going to be a long investigation”, yeah- by who?
    A baton should have been enough with using pepper spray first;
    if the taser didn’t work and another wasn’t ready at the moment!
    It is pretty bad when 5-LEO’s can’t do a simple pick up of a perp ~!

    • George Takei fan March 9, 2015, 8:16 pm

      Ever seen excited delirium? Incredibly tough to stop a person in that condition. Two cops and my partner lying on the guy. He only stopped moving after a sedative was injected into his muscle. I’m a paramedic….cops don’t carry drugs, but have other tools. Anyone reaching for an officer’s gun needs to be stopped in any way possible

  • Russ March 9, 2015, 5:48 pm

    When is it legal to sell drugs, rob people, and fight with the Police. Never, even if they are wrong dont resist, you will lose. You can always make a complaint or sue. Listen to the Police and dont resist and theres a good chance you wont be shot and you get to go on your way.

    • mtman2 March 9, 2015, 7:56 pm

      We’re talking about someone off their meds, mentally incompetent, a wounded vet w/PTSD, a drug attic or maybe all 4 and it could be your son. But it is someones son and cops aren’t gestapo, KGB- nor are they supposed to be trigger happy.

      Whether WE like it or not people have actually have Constitutional rights esp with the over-arching Bill of Rights that these same LEO’s swore to uphold when WE gave them a badge to Protect+Serve the public.
      And that means all of us; ie- WE need smart and savvy cops. ~!

    • Webster March 9, 2015, 8:25 pm

      Right Russ, like the citizens in Ferguson got a great system there,next your going to say don’t look the police in the eyes and step off the sidewalk when they walk by.

  • Carl March 9, 2015, 5:36 pm

    OK – you are dealing with an incredibly strong person pumped beyond belief who is probably on drugs and has not been stopped by a taser and who is grabbing at your gun to take it from you and shoot you. You have a split second to react. What do you choose?
    A. Give up and let him have your gun (he probably just wants to see what brand it is).
    B. Stop and carefully assess the situation, all the while this incredibly strong person pumped beyond belief who is probably on drugs and has not been stopped by a taser and who is grabbing at your gun to take it away from you and shoot you, before you take your next action.
    C. Shoot to stop in that fraction of a heartbeat you have left, following all logical training to shoot for center mass.
    D. Shoot yourself because this person trying to get your gun and shoot you and who you know to be convicted felon has just been wronged by society and is in need of rehabilitation and by doing so, you will send a strong message of comfort to the existing community of criminals and drug addicts by taking your own life.

  • Mark Tercsak March 9, 2015, 2:17 pm

    The wrong question has been asked here in this case, Why did the Officers not shoot the man in the Leg.
    The Question should be why was the man resisting arrest and continued to resist arrest ?

    Now some complain about the fellow was on the ground, So was a guy who was tazzed a few years ago than he shot and murdered to police officers in florida, he pulled his gun emptied it into one than took that officers gun and used it to murder his partner.

    In other words just because your on the ground does not mean your no longer a threat, its your actions that determine if your a threat or not.

  • E.C. Hale III March 9, 2015, 12:40 pm

    As far as shooting goes–when I was training to work in Corrections, we were taught to try and de-escalate whenever possible, but if it came down to it, aim center-mass. It has the highest probability of a hit, as well as the highest probability of stopping the action sooner rather than later, which, if it gets to that point, you want the other guy down ASAP. The whole idea is that you go home alive at the end of your shift rather than end your shift in a body bag.

  • Aridog March 9, 2015, 11:30 am

    I am always, albeit morbidly, amused by these calls for a peripheral limb shot, as if fire fights are like the old Roy Rogers or Hop Along Cassidy movies where a hand or shoulder flesh wound shots are de rigueur. For civilians, which I am now, long retired, the best gun fight is the one you avoid by other means, any other means. However if forced, shoot for center of mass or make sure your life insurance is paid up. As “Al” on 05 March said, a “leg wound” can be fatal all too often if the femoral artery is hit. Worse, such a shot, by police to a man on the ground would be up close and potentially indicative of mortal intent. It is contrary to any training I know of anywhere. In the old days we called a leg wound where the femoral was not hit a “victory wound”…e.g., one that got you evac’d and eligible for an ITT but was not mortal. A guy I met while still cadre on US soil had been a squad machine gunner who pulled drag for a retreating platoon of the 173rd, not a common occurrence for them but necessary to re-position occasionally, he was part of…and he took three shots in the thigh and none hit the femoral…got him an ITT to Thailand, then home at tour end. He said he was the luckiest man he knew of…got one Purple Heart but I figured he’d deserved three. As for his good fortune, I’d have to agree…a shot up leg and no bleed out. Noteworthy is that his wounds did NOT stop him from his appointed task in drag. One guy “luckier” was me…never hit by more than grazing shrapnel that was more like a nick you’d get doing carpentry work.

  • Roger Griggs March 9, 2015, 10:51 am

    Firstly; understand that I’m a trained & licensed pistol owner. I, like so many who’ve had to resort to defending themselves are in a fight or flight mode. I have found myself feeling(reflecting may me a better term) the assailants demeanor. I resist the reflection in an effort to de-escalate. I assume these police officers got caught up in the moment(so to speak) and could not resist the temptation. They are only human however I would assume at least one of the five could have remained objective, giving direction that would have not caused them to bear the burden of ending a life. Their training and their carte blanche use of deadly force causes me concern. I carry every where I go for fear of not having a means of defending my disabled, aged self. But at the same time I’m not going to take a life needlessly. As for the police; are they as great a threat to my well being? I wish we could depend on the institution in both extremes.

    • Bill Richardson March 9, 2015, 12:27 pm

      I, like you, am a trained concealed weapons permit holder and I carry every day. While I can empathize with your philosophy I do think that you are missing larger picture. Law enforcement officers are on the front line every minute of their day. It is not the same for you and I and the hundreds of thousands like us. We carry responsibly for the unwanted and unwelcome event that we may have to use our weapon to defend ourselves, our loved ones, and/or our neighbors. Officers, especially in the larger cities like L.A., are likely targets for just about any nut case with a gun. You put on a uniform in some places and it is like you have just slapped a big bulls eye on your back. Officers anywhere run the risk of even a simple traffic stop turning into a deadly altercation in just seconds. I disagree with supposition that the officers, “Could not resist the temptation.” These officers are trained to use the least possible amount of force to deescalate any given situation. However, once a gun has been introduced into that altercation the officer has the right and the responsibility to defend himself or herself as well as the public. And that brings me to what I consider to be the bigger picture. everyone likes to criticize the officer for using deadly force. how about the person that pulled a gun or other deadly weapon first? In my opinion, if someone pulls a weapon, any weapon, with the intent to use deadly force, then it becomes fair game to stop that person any way that I can before that person can carry out his or her intent on either me or anyone around me. If a person pulls a gun on me, I am not going to try and talk that person down, nor am I going aim for his or her leg with the possibility of missing with the only shot that I may get before being shot. I am going to aim for his or her torso, just as those officers are trained to do, with the intention of putting a stop to the attacker’s deadly intent.

      • ballshack March 9, 2015, 6:06 pm

        I thought cops r well trained in hand to hand fight.also train to restrain.what happen to shotguns with ammo binbags? If taser wont work maybe two shotguns firing beanbags would mostlikely make the person weak.i have seen cops use beanbags ammo on suspect armed with a gun on u tube.it only took 2 shots most of the time and the suspect just went down in pain and weak by hits of these non lethal ammo.plus mr we r actually talking about law enforcement people.

        • Nate March 9, 2015, 8:07 pm

          So, you’re saying, guy goes for a cop’s sidearm, so somebody needs to run away and get the less legal shotguns? Not gonna happen

      • renny seymour March 11, 2015, 12:14 am

        I am sick of hearing about how dangerous the job of police officer is. Google most dangerous jobs america. y You willsee that police officer is way short of being most dangerous. Should all jobholders in jobs more dangerous than police officer get a pass if they kill someone on the job?

  • Daddio7 March 9, 2015, 7:21 am

    Police need to be better trained in unarmed combat. In situations where multiple officers are on scene the better trained officers armed only with non lethal weapons should attempt to apprehend the suspect. Armed officers should stand well back. This rolling up five feet away from someone and jumping out shouting with guns ready can only lead to more more unarmed people shot for hands near there waistbands. The practice of chasing and shooting anyone who runs needs to be curtailed also. Unless a serious crime has been committed just let it go. Give the police some immunity from any subsequent acts committed by a fleeing person.

    • Greg B March 9, 2015, 11:47 am

      I hope you are joking. Talk about an incentive for increased lawlessness, let’s let petty criminals know they are free to commit crimes so long as they are willing to resist arrest by fleeing.

    • E. C. Hale III March 9, 2015, 12:36 pm

      Daddio7, surely you can’t be serious. If you are, I can’t even begin to fathom how you managed to come up with what you wrote. What a great message to send to criminals–if you commit a crime and the cops roll up on you, just run away! They won’t chase you down and haul you down to jail. Go ahead and run, and while you are at it, feel free to victimize some more people, too, because the cops aren’t hot on your tail. Talk about some epic “fail”…

    • Bardo12 March 9, 2015, 4:26 pm

      What a dip shit!

    • BUURGA March 10, 2015, 12:28 am

      Unarmed combat is the LAST thing an officer should do. How many people have been chased and shot? Unless a ‘serious’ crime has been committed let it go? How about don’t commit any crime and let that go.

  • David March 5, 2015, 4:17 pm

    Police are trained to shoot into the torso. Several reasons for not shooting in the leg:
    1. a leg wound can easily lead to death
    2. A leg wound may not put a stop to action you are trying to stop – I.E. even with a leg wound, he may still continue to fight over the officer’s gun.
    3. Easier to miss with a leg shot. According to the FBI, police in stressful situations miss as much as 75% of their shots. If shooting at moving small target, such as a flailing leg, the percentage would be even lower.
    4. A miss to a leg allows the bullet to strike something or somebody else, means possible injury to other officers or bystanders..
    5. Even a hit to a leg is likely to pass through the leg, again possible injuring other officers or bystanders.
    6. A miss to a leg shot, allows the suspect to keep fighting over the gun while possible injuring others.

  • Al March 3, 2015, 3:40 pm

    There is a widespread misconception that a leg wound is not fatal. It could lead to amputation or death. A punctured femoral artery is every bit as lethal as a thoracic wound to a vital organ.

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