Home Scandal and Gossip Were LAPD officers right to shoot homeless man dead?

Were LAPD officers right to shoot homeless man dead?

LAPD shoot homeless man
Did the LAPD use excess force or was the shooting death of a homeless man justified? Video via Anthony Blackburn

Pundits have raged in a debate as to whether LAPD officers caught on video shooting dead a homeless man at Los Angeles’ skid row district were justified?

At the time of the shooting, police were responding to a call regarding an altercation between two people on Sunday morning.

As several of the officers wrestled the man to the street, a woman approaches from behind and grabs a baton one of the responding cops appears to have dropped.

From there the officer runs up to the woman shouting, ‘You have my stick! You have my stick!’ before two officers slam her to the ground.

Still struggling to subdue the first man, officers resort to what appears to be tasering him, but that too appears ineffective as the homeless man appears to motion for one of the officer’s gun.

Shouts repeatedly one of the officers, ‘he’s going for my gun!’ whilst another cop is heard shouting, Drop the gun! Drop the gun!’ before five shots are fired off.

The original video was reportedly uploaded to Facebook by a man named Anthony Blackburn.

At time of press the video has had 5,215,058 views and 205,153 shares.

LAPD shoot homeless man

Since the shooting, the LAPD has confirmed that the man officers shot and killed yesterday was homeless.

LAPD Sgt. Barry Montgomery would tell via KTLA that police were called to the scene, in LA’s Skid Row, after a reported robbery:

On Sunday evening, LAPD Commander Andrew Smith told reporters that when the officers arrived “they saw the individual they believed was a suspect and attempted to take him into custody.”

A struggle ensued, during which police used a Taser on the man several times in an unsuccessful effort to subdue him, Smith said.

“It became a struggle over one of the officer’s weapons,” the commander said, referring to a firearm. The man was then shot by police, Smith said. It was unknown how many times he was struck. Shortly afterward, he was pronounced dead at the scene by Los Angeles firefighters.

Offered one commentator on the web of their assessment of events:  In the beginning of the video, the tall black officer pulls his baton. He drops it to the ground (which the female suspect then picks up), pulls his gun and engages with the suspect. During the scuffle, you’ll see his gun fall to the ground. A few moments later, during the scuffle on the ground, he starts screaming about his gun. What he probably didn’t realize is his gun is a few feet behind him, on the ground. He, incorrectly, believes the suspect has his gun.

You’ll hear the gun fall to the ground just a few seconds before he yells “Get my stick” to the other officers. This officer lost control of two of his weapons, both of which caused the situation to spiral out of control.

The Los Angeles Times reports that two officers and one sergeant fired their weapons; one officer’s body camera apparently recorded the incident.

Witnesses would tell that the man killed was known locally as ‘Africa,’ and had apparently been living in a tent on Skid Row for a number of months ‘after spending a long stretch in a mental health facility.’

Told Lonnie Franklin who witnessed the shooting: ‘That man never was a threat,’

‘The amount of officers present at the time could have subdued him.’

Then again does it really matter how many officers are present if an individual resists arrest and then acts in such way to potentially put any one of the responding officers or other individual’s lives at the scene at risk?

Granted the man being approached, detained, arrested may have felt he had no right to be approached, detained or arrested but that being the case, isn’t that an issue for the courts to decide and not a street brawl which so often leads to unintended consequences?

Or was the shooting the unintended consequences of police caught up in the heat of the moment, unaware that the gun that the homeless man had was in fact never in his possession but a few feet behind after the officers purportedly dropped his weapon in the scuffle?

Either way the officer’s immediate and swift retaliation at the perceived wrong of the homeless man also goes a long way in betraying their view of such individuals in society, as one wonders if they would have reacted differently had the man not been black or homeless or poor?

Since the shooting, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, head of the activist group the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, called on the Police Commission to hold special hearing on use of force by officers in Skid Row encounters.

Hutchinson said in a statement that the shooting ‘underscores the need for the police commission to hold a special hearing to fully examine police tactics and training in the use of deadly force by LAPD officers involving skid row residents many of whom have major mental challenges.’

And then there was this comment on the web that caught my attention:

The question is not, “Did the police act inappropriately?” The answer is no. They did as they were paid, trained, and equipped. The question is, “Is this what we want to be?” A brutal police state that marginalizes and bullies it’s most vulnerable and those that are different, instead of taking them under our wing and takes care of them. If this is just the cost of doing business, and we are fine with that, then no discussion. Carry on.

LAPD shoot homeless man

LAPD shoot homeless man

LAPD shoot homeless man

LAPD shoot homeless man

LAPD shoot homeless man



  1. Hey , they were only following orders . And , so far , the blueshirts have confined their lethal attention to the poor and marginalised and political protesters and journalists covering them . Nothing to be upset about here , folks . Move on , move on !

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