Skid row residents respond to fatal police shooting of homeless man in their downtown Los Angeles neighborhood.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (MARCH 2, 2015) (REUTERS) – Civil rights activists and local residents spoke out against police brutality on Monday (March 2) after footage of the fatal shooting of a homeless man goes viral on Sunday (March 1).
Los Angeles police officers trying to subdue a homeless man in the city’s skid row section shot and killed the man as he grabbed an officer’s gun during a scuffle that was captured on video.
The dead man was known by his street name, Africa and had been living in a tent for weeks outside the Union Rescue Mission building where Sunday’s confrontation occurred. Footage of the shooting, widely circulated on the Internet and replayed on television news, marked the latest in a string of incidents that have put police around the country under heightened scrutiny over the use of lethal force.
“Many of the people have saw the LAPD execute a mentally ill homeless man. We’re standing up today and saying no more because it always seems like it’s the black and latino men who are shot down and murdered by law enforcement nation wide,” said civil rights activist Najee Ali during a press conference held at the same location as the altercation.
A memorial was set up at the site of the shooting, with signs written on pieces cardboard and decorate with flowers and lit candles.
The Los Angeles neighborhood known as skid row is made up of a 50-block area that ranks as one of the largest concentrations of homeless people in United States. Residents there are agitated over the shooting which they believe was uncalled for.
“I come walking up and just about the time I come walking up I heard the shots fired and I freaked and I was like, wow. I’m over here and I find out four to five shots were fired, okay, on one individual from five to six feet away. That’s murder, anyway you look at it, that’s murder,” said witness and local resident Lee Hunt.
“First of all, just for the record, it wasn’t no robbery. It was never a robbery, it was a simple verbal altercation that escalated to a fist fight. By the time the officers got here, the shit was over, it was a dead issue. They chose to kind of like extend it, like escalate it even further and it got ugly. I mean he was homeless in a tent, he didn’t have no weapon.,” said witness Bruce Naivi.
Los Angeles police also held a press conference in response to the fatal shooting. Police said an internal investigation will be conducted in coordination with its Office of Inspector General and will be presented to police commissioners to determine if the use of deadly force was justified. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office also will review the incident.