An alleged struggle over an LAPD police officer’s gun ended with three officers firing and killing a man on the tragic Skid Row–where many of Los Angeles’ homeless population lives. Similar to the infamous killing of Oscar Grant by a police officer, this shooting was also caught on tape and widely circulated on social media. According to reports, the three officers, one of whom is a sergeant, shot the man as they struggled on the ground for control of one of the police officer’s weapons, after a stun gun proved ineffective, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.
Apparently, the officers were responding to a call about a robbery in Skid Row. In the video, the six officers can be seen responding to the scene, and they begin wrestling with the man as he takes swings at them. Two of the officers break away to subdue and handcuff a woman who picked up one of their dropped batons. The video becomes increasingly blurry and distant, but shouting can be heard, including the word, “gun,” followed by five distinct gunshots. Reports claim the man had one of the officer’s guns in his hands.
The man’s name has not been identified and there’s no confirmation that he’s homeless. But an eye witness claims that the man is known on the street as “Africa” and he’d been on Skid Row for four or five months. Another witness claimed he saw the man swinging at police then heard one of them shout, “he’s got my gun!” before the shots were fired. There’s claims that “Africa” has been fighting with someone else in his tent before the officers arrived on the scene.
There’s an estimated 1,700 homeless people living on Skid Row in tents and cardboard shelters and it’s known that man of them suffer through mental illness and addiction. 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.
In this time of #BlackLivesMatter and the sudden surge of Black killings at the hands of police officers, we’re all walking around on eggshells, afraid that our lives have no value. If the life of a 12-year-old can be reduced to a single shot on a playground or the life of a 17-year-old can be stolen because he walked home in the rain, with a hoodie–the lives of homeless people have to tally in with far less value. 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.”
There’s nothing we can say about police officers fearing their lives everyday, but when there’s incidents like these, there’s got to be something else these officers can do. Was there not a moment to taser him instead?
What do you think beauties? Sound off in the comments below.