LOS ANGELES—The officer-involved shooting on Sunday, March 1 on the 500 block of San Pedro in Los Angeles, has placed national attention upon the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers.
The conflict took place on Los Angeles’ famed skid row, a place where local homeless gather, pitching tents in the public space for shelter.
The shooting took place after a man, known on the streets as “Africa” entered the tent of another man and appeared to fight with him. Officers subsequently responded to the downtown location, receiving a report of a robbery on skid row.
When a group of three officers approached Africa to detain him, the man struggled with police, forcibly attempting to reach for the youngest officer’s pistol. When the officer yelled, “He has my gun!”, the group opened-fire on Africa, inflicting lethal wounds.
The incident was caught on camera by police body cameras and two civilian bystanders.
A subsequent police examination of the officer’s gun suggested there was indeed a struggle for the weapon.
Video evidence and witness statements have clouded the picture of what exactly happened in the moments immediately leading-up to the shooting. One witness video shows Africa reaching-up towards the officer’s waistband as he is wrestled to the ground.
City officials have worked to stay ahead of the media firestorm that has followed officer-involved shootings, hoping to avoid the violence and rioting that followed the shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mississippi.
The shooting has raised questions on training officers how to handle the mentally ill. According to those who knew him, Africa had spent time in a mental institution prior to his current stay on skid row.
Per protocol, the sergeant and the two officers involved in the shooting have been put on paid administrative leave during the investigation of the incident.