LA braces for backlash as video of cops killing homeless man goes viral

Tensions between the police and community are flaring in Los Angeles following a police shooting of a homeless man while responding to a robbery call.

Protests started in Pershing Square, the site of the shooting Sunday night after officers shot and killed the man, known to the community as “Africa,” during a struggle.


Raw video of the incident began circulating the Internet Sunday night showing the altercation in detail.


At the start of the video, officers use a Taser on the man before one of the officers yells, “Gun! Gun! He’s got my gun.”

That’s when five shots rang out.

“It’s clear there was a struggle for the officer’s gun,” Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Andrew Smith told the Los Angeles Times.


“At some point in there, a struggle over one of the officer’s weapons occurred,” Cmdr. Smith said. “At that point an officer-involved shooting happened.”

Police Commission President Steve Soboroff told the Times he first watched the video on social media.

“My heart just started pounding just watching it. I feel the adrenaline. These situations are just so horrific,” he said before adding that officials would investigate the shooting “very, very carefully.”


Witnesses reports of the altercation varied.

“That man never was a threat,” Lonnie Franklin, 53, who said he witnessed the shooting from across the street told the Times. “The amount of officers present at the time could have subdued him.”

“He was down but then he jumped up, like he was juiced up, and then he started swinging at the police and they were fighting him back, another witness,” Yolanda Young, told KTLA. “They shot him five times.”

Anthony Blackburn, who shot the video, said the officer who shot Africa was black.

“I had my phone out, you know, videotaping the whole thing ’cause we’ve been hearing on the news about police brutality,” he told “I just wanted to film it and just make sure everything was alright. But I ended up seeing a tragedy.”

“The young black officer that shot him, he went over to the crowd, telling everybody back up in an aggressive way,” he added.


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