LAPD seeks witnesses in police shooting of a man in Los Feliz

After police shooting of unarmed man in Los Feliz, LAPD asks for any witnesses to come forward

An unarmed man shot in Los Feliz by Los Angeles police Friday remains in critical condition as officials ask for any witnesses, including anyone who might have taken video of the shooting, to come forward.

Cmdr. Andrew Smith said two officers involved in the shooting have been removed from the field, pending a 72-hour briefing period of LAPD command staff, which is routine after police uses of force.

Police shot the man, whose name has not been released, after he approached officers and raised his arm, wrapped in a towel.

"This person extended an arm wrapped in a towel," LAPD Lt. John Jenal said. "The officer exited the vehicle and said, 'Drop the gun, drop the gun.'"

The man did not have a gun, and the reason his arm was wrapped in a towel is unclear.

Video of the aftermath of the shooting showed two Los Angeles police officers handcuffing the man who had just been shot and whose head was covered in blood.

The video, which was circulated on social media on Saturday, prompted questions as to why police would handcuff a man who was seriously injured.

The Los Angeles Police Department's Smith said the officers followed standard procedure in handcuffing the man when they did. At that point, Smith said, the man had not been searched and was considered a suspect.

"We always do that," Smith said. "That's the policy ... to handcuff someone in a situation like that."

The incident began when the man flagged down officers about 6:35 p.m. Friday at Los Feliz Boulevard and Tica Drive south of Griffith Park, according to a police account.

At least one officer shot the man, officials said. The man then collapsed on the ground.

A motorist shot video of the officers rolling over the wounded man and handcuffing him, even though he did not appear to be resisting and the back of his head was covered in blood.

Smith cautioned that the investigation into the shooting was still in its early stages. One of the key questions, he said, was why the man flagged down the two uniformed officers.

The man was standing on the side of the road, Smith said, when he called out to the officers: "Police, police."

Smith said investigators would explore all possibilities, including whether the man needed some type of help from police. He said investigators would also look into the man's background to see if there were any indications the shooting was an attempted "suicide by cop."

"We cover everything. Our investigators leave no stone unturned," Smith said. "We don't have any idea about this guy's background. We just don't know yet."

Andrew Lesch, 65, was in the backyard of his home on Tica Drive preparing for a barbecue when he and his family heard three shots Friday night.

Although burglaries and car break-ins have happened in the neighborhood, the sound of gunshots was unusual, Lesch said.

"That's how atypical it was because you could immediately tell that they were gunshots," he said.

After hearing the gunfire and a helicopter circling above, Lesch and his family went outside and saw officers detaining the man on the ground as they moved in to handcuff him.

An ambulance arrived and he was taken away.

Anne Griffin, 35, has lived in the neighborhood for two years. The shooting unfolded directly in front of her apartment complex

"It's normally a really safe area," Griffin said. "I was already terrified of the police and now it's a little worse."

Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.

Twitter: @katemather

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Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

9:24 a.m.: This story has been updated with comments from neighbors.

This was originally published at 8:49 a.m.

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