Los Angeles’ police chief said Monday there was evidence that a homeless man shot and killed by officers on Sunday had struggled over one of their guns, but a bystander who captured a viral video of the deadly incident says he never saw the man reach for a weapon.
Police Chief Charlie Beck said during a news conference that the slide of the weapon had been “partially engaged,” which is “indicative of a struggle over a weapon,” according to the Los Angeles Times, which has reviewed a second video of the deadly altercation.
Police were responding to a suspected robbery call and pursued a man known by some as “Africa” in the Skid Row area, home to one of the largest populations of homeless people in the country. After officers made contact, the department said in a statement, the man apparently began to fight back and resist being taken into custody.
“The officers attempted to use a Taser to subdue him but the suspect continued to fight and resist the officers and fell to the ground,” the statement continues. “While on the ground, the suspect and officers struggled over one of the officer’s handguns and then an officer-involved shooting occurred.”
Sunday’s encounter was recorded by at least one officer’s body camera and caught on a video that was circulated widely on Facebook. The bystander who recorded the footage, Anthony Blackburn, told CNN on Monday that he hadn’t seen the man reach for a weapon.
Beck said the officers involved in the shooting had received training about working with mentally ill people. The man reportedly spent the past few months living in a tent after previously residing at a mental-health facility.
Police said the shooting is being investigated by a number of law-enforcement offices, including the Office of Inspector General and Los Angeles Country District Attorney’s Justice System, to determine if the man’s death was another case of excessive force by police, as some witnesses and local activists claim.
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