As news is flooding into social media sites with reports of the latest shooting by armed police, frantic questions are being raised as to whether the police go too far when handling unarmed citizens.
Although at this stage, the details are not clear, the information available is that the Los Angeles Police Department were called to East Sixth Street and South Pedro Street at around 11:36 a.m. after receiving a report of a robbery and an altercation involving two people.
The video captures the struggle between five police officers and the homeless man, believed to be known as Africa, at a homeless camp in central Los Angeles.
Jack Richter, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department says that the police initially tazed the man however that was ineffective as the man continued to resist arrest. They then went on to shoot him.
The victim was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after the shooting. One officer was reported to have been slightly injured.
Shocked bystanders can be heard in the video saying, “They just killed that man. They just shot that motherf*ckin’ man like that.”
Witnesses have spoke saying that Africa became homeless after receiving treatment for a mental condition.
The LAPD was also involved in a very high profile case in 1991 after the beating of Rodney King by five police officers resulting in King being awarded over $5 million in a lawsuit against the police department. The footage was shown around the world, raising public concern about the handling of civilians.
In 2011 two Californian police officers were caught on video beating to death Kelly Thomas, a mentally disabled homeless man, protests ensued and a nationwide outcry was heard. The police officers were charged but later acquitted.
In November of 2014 police officers arrested hundreds of people who gathered to protest against the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York who were both shot by police officers.
In Britain in 2011, there were widespread riots in London after the shooting of Mark Duggan by police officers, his death led to a fiercely debated inquest as to whether the killing could have been avoided.
The questions on many peoples lips once again may be, “Were the police too trigger happy? Is there any need to shoot a man dead when there are five highly trained police officers on the scene handling the case? Were the police officers at serious risk?”
Police shootings are highly controversial and this latest one will no doubt ignite high tensioned debates once again.
Only hours after this latest shooting the hash tag #LAPDshooting was trending on Twitter and it will likely be causing a storm on social media and possibly on the streets for some time to come.
The questions will need answers, however these investigations are not always straight-forward and the responses that people are searching for may not come soon enough for a lot of people and they may also not be the replies that people want to hear.
Cmdr. Andrew Smith of the LAPD said, “It’s always tragic when there’s a loss of life in one of these situations. It’s not an incident taken lightly by any police officer. But we are committed to everyone involved and to the public to conduct a thorough and complete investigation.”
At Pershing Square dozens of people had already gathered to protest the shooting by 9:30 p.m.
With the story currently going viral on social media networking sites, there is no doubt that there will be yet another outcry. I agree, I cry out myself, questions need to be asked, answers need to be given, but I just hope more than anything that changes can happen without the need for more violence and chaos to take place.
I also agree, protests are often necessary, we do all need to stand as one when we see injustice, but it is also important to take into account the bigger picture and to take action in a way that can ensure that significant and vital changes will be put in place.
Emotions will be running high, as with all perceived injustice, so to quote the words of Martin Luther King Jr:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Author: Alex Myles
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Video Still