LA police shooting: What we know and don't know

newday dnt lapd officer shooting man_00003127
newday dnt lapd officer shooting man_00003127


    Startling video captures LAPD shooting


Startling video captures LAPD shooting 01:24

Story highlights

  • Video shot by witness to confrontation with police goes viral
  • Police are investigating what happened

(CNN)Emotions were running hot across the country Monday after a viral Facebook video showed Los Angeles police shooting and killing a man in the city's Skid Row district, where homeless people camp in the city's downtown.

Because the man appears in the four-minute video to be on his back on the ground when shots are fired, some have blasted the police, saying excessive force was used. The police, who said they were answering a call about a robbery, have said they are investigating the incident. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Monday that the man reached for an officer's gun.
A witness told the Los Angeles Times the man reached for an officer's weapon.
    Here's what we know and don't know so far about the shooting. It comes after the high-profile police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York, among others, stoking heightened scrutiny of law enforcement and the communities they police.
    What does the video show?
    We know: The video, recorded Sunday, begins with a man swinging his arms at police officers outside a Los Angeles homeless shelter. An officer tackles him, and three others try to subdue the man. At least one officer appears to pull out a stun gun and tries to shock the man.
    "Drop the gun!" a voice yells.
    While police struggle with the man, another tussle breaks out when one officer loses his baton. A bystander picks it up.
    "Get my stick! Get my stick!" the officer yells as other officers tackle a woman.
    Seconds later, five shots ring out. People nearby scream and shout profanities.
    "Why did y'all shoot that man?" one witness yells. "Y'all got (him) tased. Why did y'all shoot that man?"
    We don't know: Bystander Anthony Blackburn said he shot the video with his phone and that he started filming after officers surrounded a homeless man in front of the man's tent on a city sidewalk. We don't know what happened before Blackburn pressed record. Blackburn's video ends with people angry in the street, yelling at police while authorities cordon off the area with caution tape.
    We also don't know if the woman was arrested.
    Witness: I didn't see suspect reaching for LAPD's gun
    lv intv sidner blackburn witness lapd shooting_00013105


      Witness: I didn't see suspect reaching for LAPD's gun


    Witness: I didn't see suspect reaching for LAPD's gun 03:16
    What does the man who shot the video say?
    We know: Blackburn said he began recording the incident when police threatened to use their Tasers on the man.
    He said he was standing about 20 feet away and saw the man was flailing after being repeatedly hit with the police stun guns. Blackburn said he didn't see the man reaching for a gun.
    Blackburn told CNN he thinks there's no justification for the killing. Blackburn asked why the police didn't "shoot the man in the leg? He's already on the ground."
    Blackburn uploaded the video to Facebook and the video went viral. By Monday, Blackburn's video had been viewed millions of times.
    We don't know: We haven't heard from other witnesses seen in the video. What do they say happened?
    What do the police say?
    We know: Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Monday that the man reached for an officer's gun. "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 told reporters. Beck also said that two of the officers involved in the incident were injured. They were treated and released from area hospitals, the police chief said.
    Los Angeles Police Commander Andrew Smith said the man was a robbery suspect and when officers attempted to arrest him, he started fighting them. Police tried to stun the man but when he reached for an officer's gun, three officers fired at him. Smith said the man didn't have a firearm. The man was searched but Smith said he didn't know what -- if anything -- the police found on the man's person.
    We don't know: Police have said they are continuing to investigate what happened and are trying to get as many witness accounts as possible. They are searching for any additional video that might have captured the incident.
    LAPD Sgt. Barry Montgomery told the Los Angeles Times that at least two surveillance cameras were mounted on nearby buildings.
    NBC reported Monday that there is a second video of the incident, apparently shot from a slightly different angle.
    Police also want to interview the person who initially called to report the robbery that drew police to Skid Row.
    We haven't heard yet from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Police said investigators there are also looking into what happened.
    Who was the man killed?
    We know: Witness Tonya Edwards told CNN affiliate KTLA-TV she knew the man who was shot, describing him as a homeless person who had "a lot of mental issues."
    Another witness, Yolanda Young, told KTLA the man "had three Tasers on 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. ... They shot him five times," Young said.
    People who knew the man reportedly said he was called "Africa" or "Brother Africa."
    Andy Bales, the president of Los Angeles' Union Rescue Mission, told the L.A. Times he thinks the man got his nickname because he was an immigrant from an African nation.
    Bales said the man lived near the mission and helped employees "clean up every day," according to the newspaper. But sometimes the man acted out, according to Bales.
    "One day, he came flying out of his tent and knocked some stuff out of the hands of passersby," Bales told the Times.
    Bales also said the man got into a fight about a half-hour before the shooting, which prompted a phone call to police.
    We don't know: Police have not released the name of the man, and there's still much to be learned about the man's background and how he wound up on the streets. Details about the man's physical and mental health are also unknown.