A homeless man was shot dead after a scuffle with police on the sidewalk in the "Skid Row" area of downtown Los Angeles yesterday, allegedly after trying to grab an officer's gun. Witnesses tell CBS that when officers responding to a report of a robbery arrived at the scene before noon, the suspect was in a tent arguing with another man and he was shot during a struggle with officers. A Taser apparently failed to subdue the man as police tried to take him into custody. In bystander video of the incident, five shots can be heard. An LAPD spokesman says two officers and a sergeant fired after "a struggle over one of the officer's weapons occurred," the Los Angeles Times reports. He says audio enhancement software will be used on the "disturbing" video of the shooting to determine what the officers said before opening fire.
No other weapon was found at the scene, the LAPD spokesman says. Witnesses say that during the struggle, two officers broke away to handcuff a woman who had picked up a dropped baton, reports the AP. Area residents tell the Times that the man shot by police was known as "Africa" and had been on the street for around five months, often being told by police to pack up his tent in the daytime. Police Commission President Steve Soboroff tells the Times that the incident will be investigated "very, very carefully" to determine whether the man really did try to grab an officer's gun, which he says would be the "only explanation" for the sudden use of deadly force.