Sources: LAPD body cameras show struggle with homeless man
Footage from body cameras worn by an LAPD officer and a sergeant involved in Sunday’s deadly shooting in downtown’s skid row does not show whether the man reached for an officer’s gun, law enforcement sources said.
But three sources who reviewed the footage from the chest-mounted cameras said the video was still consistent with accounts that the man did grab an officer’s holstered pistol.
One source said an officer is heard on the video shouting “He’s got my gun” multiple times. The footage then shows the officers pulling away from the man as though his actions posed a threat, the sources said.
The sources requested anonymity because they were not allowed to publicly discuss the ongoing investigation into the shooting.
The new information comes a day after an LAPD sergeant and two officers shot and killed a man in downtown’s skid row, an area heavily populated by homeless people.
The LAPD has said the officers were responding to a 911 call about a robbery and that the man tried to fight the officers after they approached him. During the struggle, the LAPD said, the man reached for a probationary officer’s holstered pistol, prompting police to open fire.
The man’s name has not been released by authorities, but other skid row residents who knew him said he went by the name “Africa.” Coroner’s officials said he was 39.
The law enforcement sources said one of the body camera recordings captured the start of the incident, when officers initially approached the man’s tent. One source said the man is seen running inside the tent, at which point the officers tell him they needed to see his hands and ordered him out of the tent.
At one point, the source said, the man began running toward the officers, swatting his arms. He can also be seen on the footage spinning around, the source said.
The sources said the body camera footage supported events depicted in the civilian-captured video of Sunday’s shooting, which drew millions of views after it was posted on Facebook. An enhanced version of that video reviewed by The Times showed the man’s arm reach toward an officer’s waistband.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck showed a still image to reporters at a Monday press conference, saying it showed the man’s hand near the officer’s waist where he carried his holster. Beck said the initial information indicated the man “forcibly grabbed” the officer’s holstered pistol.
Beck said he had reviewed the body camera recordings but declined to comment on what they showed. He told reporters that the footage offered a “unique perspective” of the incident but said it would “not be proper” for the LAPD to publicly release the footage during the ongoing probe.
“At the end of the investigation into this officer-involved shooting...we will release the complete investigation through the inspector general’s office,” Beck said. “If there is a criminal proceeding in this or if there’s a civil proceeding in this, we will make all evidence available through those proceedings.”
The LAPD is poised to become the largest law enforcement agency in the country to use body cameras, after Mayor Eric Garcetti announced last year that the city would purchase 7,000 cameras. Although the policy for the devices and access to their footage is still being finalized, Beck has said the department does not want to publicly release the recordings unless required in a court proceeding.
The officer and sergeant involved in Sunday’s shooting were wearing the cameras as part of a department pilot program for the devices.
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.