The homeless man who was shot and killed by Los Angeles police on Sunday reached for an officer’s handgun, authorities claimed Monday.
During a press conference at police headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck showed reporters six photos, two of them screen shots from a video taken by a bystander. Beck defended the actions of his officers, saying they took every precaution to prevent the tragic incident that occurred on the 500 block of San Pedro Street.
“Had the individual not grabbed the officer’s pistol, we certainly would not be having this discussion,” Beck said.
Officers and a supervisor from LAPD’s Central Division responded to a robbery call at about noon. Upon arrival, the victim directed police to the suspect, Beck said. The suspect repeatedly refused to comply with police and then fought with them, the police chief said.
An officer attempted to stun the suspect, but the shock did little to subdue him.
“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.
Two of the officers were treated for injuries, one of which is on crutches and recuperating at home, Beck said.
It is unknown whether the suspect was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and the toxicology results could take several weeks to be released, Det. Meghan Aguilar told Guns.com.
A report on the department’s full investigation will be released by the LAPD’s Office of the Inspector General, Beck said.
The officers involved in the scuffle and resulting shooting were assigned to the LAPD’s Central Division and Safer Cities Initiative, a task force that receives special training on how to interact with skid row’s homeless and sometimes mentally ill residents.
In addition to the video shot by a bystander, investigators are reviewing video from body cameras worn by two of the officers on the scene, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told reporters during a press conference at City Hall on Monday.
“It’s only one part, of course, of the overall evidence that we will see,” Garcetti said. “Until the facts come in, I would implore folks to serve as a reminder that our officers and too many Angelenos face extreme danger on the streets to not draw any conclusions before we finish that work of investigation.”
LAPD’s body camera pilot program began several months ago within the Central Division for officers patrolling skid row.