Los Angeles police shot and killed a homeless man on Sunday during a disturbing confrontation that was caught on video. The video, which was posted on Facebook (and contains lots of cursing) shows a group of police officers get into a struggle with a man who is on a sidewalk next to tents. It begins with the man apparently swinging violently toward the officers. One of the officers drops his nightstick, which is picked up by a woman, who is then violently handcuffed. Then what looks like four officers continue to struggle with the man and at one point it sounds as if one of the officers yells, “Drop the gun! Drop the gun!” At that point, at least five gunshots are heard although from the recording it isn’t clear whether more than one officer opened fire.
The Los Angeles Times talks to witnesses who say the victim was a homeless man known as “Africa” but no one really has an explanation for what actually happened. One witness said Africa had been fighting with someone in his tent and then lunged at the officers when they tried to break up the fight. That is the same version that another witness recounts to CBS. “Next thing I know,” said the witness, “dude swung on a cop and the cop swung back. And they were hitting on him and then two other cop cars pulled up and they got out of the car and ran over there, and they had three tasers out.”
Another witness tells the Los Angeles Times Africa tried to grab a weapon from a police officer while a resident in the area claims police already had Africa in their sights because they had asked him repeatedly to take down his tent. “This man got shot over a tent,” the witness said. Police have yet to confirm how many rounds were fired.