Authorities said Sunday night that Los Angeles police fatally shot a man during a struggle over an officer’s weapons.
Police officials offered a detailed account of what they say prompted the Sunday morning shooting, which was captured on video by a bystander.
Cmdr. Andrew Smith said officers assigned to the LAPD’s Central Division and Safer Cities Initiative — a task force focused on skid row — responded to the location about noon Sunday after receiving a 911 call reporting a possible robbery.
The bystander who caught dramatic video of a fatal police shooting in Los Angeles said Monday he didn’t see the man reach for an officer’s gun — the initial explanation for the shooting given by police.
Anthony Blackburn said Monday he was perplexed that four officers could not subdue the man but instead shot and killed him.
Why didn’t they simply “shoot the man in the leg?” Blackburn asked. “He’s already on the ground.”
The shooting is the latest high-profile incident involving lethal force by police, in the wake of officer-involved killings in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York last year.
Blackburn’s video from Sunday already has been watched millions of times. It starts with a man swinging his arms at police officers near the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles’ Skid Row — a neighborhood rife with poverty.
One officer tackles him, and three others try to subdue him. At least one pulls out a stun gun and tries to shock the man.
“Drop the gun!” a man yells.
Seconds later, five gunshots ring out, prompting shock and screams from bystanders.
“Why did y’all shoot that man?” one witness yells. “Y’all got (him) tased. Why did y’all shoot that man?”
LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the man was suspected of robbery. When officers tried to arrest him, he started fighting with them.
Smith said police tried to shock him with a Taser, but that didn’t work. After the man reached for an officer’s gun, three officers fired at him, he said.
“I don’t know what they found on this individual,” Smith told CNN. “Obviously he didn’t have a firearm.”
Blackburn said he began filming the incident when police threatened to use their Tasers on the man.
He said he was standing about 20 feet away as the incident unfolded. He said the man was flailing from being repeatedly hit with the police stun guns, but said he never saw him reaching for a gun.
Another witness, Yolanda Young, told KTLA the man had been struck by three Tasers.
“He was down, but then he jumped up, like he was juiced up, and then he started swinging at the police and they were fighting him back. … They shot him five times,” Young said.
While police struggled with the man, another tussle broke out when one officer lost his baton. A bystander picked it up.
“Get my stick! Get my stick!” the officer yelled as other officers tackled the woman.
Witness Tonya Edwards told CNN affiliate KTLA-TV she knew the man who was shot, describing him as a homeless person who had “a lot of mental issues.”