A man shot by an off-duty Los Angeles police detective during a confrontation in downtown’s skid row that left both in critical condition last week was expected to be released from the hospital without facing arrest, officials said Wednesday.
The man, who was not identified, had a confrontation with an off-duty LAPD detective in the area of 6th and San Julian streets around 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 14, said Capt. Billy Hayes, who leads the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division. Detectives have yet to determine how the altercation began, so it remains unclear if anyone will face criminal charges, Hayes said. It was unclear what injuries the man suffered but he was expected to be released from the hospital soon, Hayes said.
The detective, identified only as an off-duty LAPD narcotics investigator, suffered a fractured eye socket and was placed in an induced coma as a result of the fight, according to two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the situation. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the incident candidly.
Despite his extensive injuries, the 20-year department veteran is also expected to leave the hospital in the next few days, Hayes said.
LAPD investigators on Monday recovered the detective's handgun from a suspect who was arrested on an unrelated matter, Hayes said. The weapon was among several items taken from the detective after he was knocked unconscious only a few blocks from the LAPD’s Central Division station.
Initial accounts portrayed the altercation as an attempted robbery, but authorities have since said it is unclear how the fight started. Several items were stolen from the detective as he lay bleeding in the street, but those thefts may not have been related to the fight, the officials said.
The encounter was captured on video, but the footage is of poor quality, Hayes said. Two or more shots were fired from the officer's handgun, but it is unclear from the video when the shots were fired.
Detectives are looking for several witnesses seen on the footage. The video shows the other man repeatedly striking the detective, according to two officials with knowledge of the incident.
The fight unfolded near the Midnight Mission, where hundreds of homeless people often congregate.
The detective had been drinking on the night of the incident and attended a party for a colleague, the officials said. While he does not live in the area, the detective was headed toward an apartment or hotel in Little Tokyo, where he had been staying while attending a training course downtown, the officials said. On the night of the incident, emergency personnel did not realize he was a police officer until hours after the altercation, according to those officials.
The man he fought with, who has been described as homeless, staggered toward the nearby Central Division station seeking medical attention, the officials said. He has refused to cooperate with investigators, according to one of the officials.
Some in the skid row community have questioned if the detective instigated the fight, and warned that the incident could deepen mistrust between the city’s homeless population and its police force.
“A detective from a different precinct, comes to skid row, and LAPD is still not really releasing information on what happened. It just leads to bad relations,” said Mel Tillekeratne, the executive director of the #SheDoes movement, which advocates for more shelters and housing for homeless women.