Officers responded to a 911 call about a potential robbery Sunday afternoon near the Union Rescue Mission on Los Angeles’s Skid Row, a homeless community lined with tents and grocery carts. Security footage from the homeless shelter was described by the Associated Press, reportedly showing the suspect push over another person’s tent and then engage in an argument. When police arrived, the suspect jumped inside his tent. Officers “appeared to pull it up and over him in an attempt to roust him from inside,” the news agency reported, and then he reportedly started his struggle with police.
“While on the ground and struggling with the officers, the man forcibly grabbed one of the officer’s holstered pistols resulting in an officer-involved shooting,” Beck said during Monday night’s news conference.
The incident was captured by several sources — surveillance cameras, body cameras worn by two police officers who fired shots and camera phones used by witnesses at the scene. One bystander captured the incident on a video, which was posted on social media and later removed. It showed an officer wrestle the victim to the ground. Both the rookie officer and the victim were black, police said. At one point, it appeared the officer lost his baton and a woman on the street grabbed it. The rookie started shouting, “Get my stick! Get my stick! Get my stick!” And two cops chased her down.
The struggle continued for several more seconds.
Beck said a screen grab from video footage appeared to show the man grab at the officer’s waistband “where his pistol would be located.”
“You can hear the young officer saying, ‘He has my gun! He has my gun!’ ” he said. “He says it several times, with conviction.”
Then, police said three fellow officers, including one sergeant, opened fire. Someone in the video shouted, “Drop the gun!” Five shots followed.
The victim, who has not been identified, was pronounced dead at the scene. Two officers were injured but were treated and released, Beck said.
After the struggle, Beck said, the gun was partially cocked and jammed with ammunition. “This is indicative of a struggle over the weapon,” he said.
Beck said footage from the officers’ body cameras give “a unique perspective” but would not be released during an ongoing police investigation.
“At the end of the investigation into this officer-involved shooting, unlike the vast majority of my peers in law enforcement, we will release the complete investigation through the inspector general’s office,” he 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.”
Beck said the three veteran officers who shot at the victim had “extensive” training to handle the homeless and mentally ill. The rookie cop whose gun was allegedly grabbed was a probationary officer who had been on the beat “just under a year,” police commander Andrew Smith told the Los Angeles Times.
“It appears to me the officers acted compassionately up until the time when force was required,” Beck said.
All four officers are on paid leave.
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