Los Angeles police officers (LAPD) have been caught on video harshly treating and then fatally shooting a homeless and mentally ill black man in the city’s Skid Row area. The shocking and disturbing scenes were filmed by an eye witness, Anthony Blackburn who then uploaded the video (Link below) on Facebook shortly afterwards. TNT Warning: Content is graphic and disturbing.
The executed man, whom witnesses called “Africa”, was pronounced dead at the hospital. According to residents in the area who knew Africa, his mental illness was well known by both the community and police. Nevertheless despite his struggles with the illness, Africa had always been “trustworthy, respectful and harmless”, they said.
On Sunday 1 March around noon, the LAPD police responded to a call on San Pedro about an altercation by a tent and cardboard pavement homeless camp. Witnesses say the argument had long been settled before the LAPD arrived. Upon arrival, the officers found Africa asleep and rouse him from his sleep, witnesses say.
The graphic clip begins by showing a violent struggle between Africa and four police officers. He swings his arm at an officer, who then antagonistically swings back with punches as the man is pinned down. Within seconds two more officers run over to the scene with tasers pointed at the man.
As Africa is struggling with the police, two other officers can be seen dragging a black woman away from the scene whom witness also say is homeless. Nothing is known of her connection with Africa other than the pair lived on the same homeless camp.
25-seconds into the clip, the first gunshot can be heard reverberating loudly through the street, and then to the audible shock and horror of on-looking witnesses including Blackburn, the officers brutally shoot Africa four more times.
Even after shooting the man multiple times, officers can be seen still pointing guns at him as his body lay motionless on the pavement beside a tent. “You all got tasers! Why [did] you all shoot that man?” a witness moves forward to say to the officers.
Before the gunshots, at least one police officer can be heard shouting “drop the gun”.
“That man is dead. Six m******f****** police [officers] just killed that man. Ain’t anybody got a gun out here. Coward m*****f******”, Blackburn can be heard commenting on the unfolding events as he records.
“He just had mental problems”
Skid row is the name given to a central district of Los Angeles with a large homeless population. Despite the area having the largest homeless community in America, tents can only be pitched from 9pm to 6am in Los Angeles County.
To enforce this law, police frequently harassed Africa; regularly waking him to take down his home, as they do to all who camp in Los Angeles outside authorised hours.
“When the police disturbed the man, he jumped up to defend his right to have his tent up which led to the LAPD being aggressive”, a witness said.
In an interview with ABC News, Steven Tugmon rhetorically questioned “What did he [Africa] do? He wasn’t an aggravated person. He wasn’t mad all the time. He just had mental problems.”
LA police commander Andrew Smith said that at least once of the officers was wearing a body camera.
According to reports, the three officers who fired gunshots at Africa have been placed on leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the shooting.
TNT News Yasin Chinembiri