According to a Los Angeles Police Department claim, the rookie officer who shot and killed a homeless man on Skid Row in the city’s downtown area Sunday did so after the man allegedly reached for the officer’s gun, CNN reports.
The dramatic scene was captured on video that went viral, highlighting the nation’s persistent struggles with police violence and unarmed Blacks, including the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City.
“Why did y’all shoot that man?” a witness can be heard yelling on the video captured by a bystander. “Y’all got (him) tased. Why did y’all shoot that man?”
The answer came just 24 hours later — Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Monday that he reached for the officer’s gun.
“I think that this is an awful tragedy, but the officers took — on the face of it — reasonable steps to avoid it. Had the individual not grabbed the officer’s pistol, certainly we would not be having this discussion,” he told reporters.
But a bystander questions Beck’s account.
Anthony Blackburn said he was perplexed that four officers could not subdue the man but instead shot and killed him during the incident on Sunday.
Why didn’t they simply “shoot the man in the leg?” Blackburn asked. “He’s already on the ground.”
The incident began about noon Sunday, when police arrived at the scene to investigate a robbery report. The suspect, whose name has not been released, allegedly refused to obey their commands and became aggressive. The suspect and officers reportedly struggled on the ground over one of the officer’s handguns, and then shots rang out.
The shooting lacks the incendiary ingredient that has inflamed emotions in most police-involved shootings, which activists say stem from racial profiling. The victim was Black just like the rookie officer who shot him, according to The Associated Press. The officer is just weeks shy of completing his probationary year on the force, police said.
An investigation continues.
SOURCE: CNN | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty