Published 10:23 am Tuesday, March 3, 2015

LA police chief: Man killed on Skid Row reached for gun

LOS ANGELES — Police fatally shot a homeless man on Skid Row during a “brutal” videotaped struggle in which a rookie officer cried out that the man had grabbed his gun, the Los Angeles police chief said Monday.

Video showed the man reaching toward the officer’s waistband, Chief Charlie Beck said. The officer’s gun was found partly cocked and jammed with a round of ammunition in the chamber and another in the ejection port, indicating a struggle for the weapon, Beck said.

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“You can hear the young officer who was primarily engaged in the confrontation saying that ‘He has my gun. He has my gun,’” Beck said. “He says it several times, with conviction.”

Then three other officers opened fire.

The man was black, as is the rookie officer who was just short of completing his probationary year on the force, police said.

Beck’s narrative of the shooting, including photos from video showing the condition of the gun, was rare, emerging just 24 hours after an officer-involved shooting. It came amid heightened attention to killings by police officers that have led to protests, some violent, across the country.

Sunday’s violence had echoes of the August police shooting of 25-year-old Ezell Ford, whose death in a struggle with LA officers brought demonstrations in the city. Ford was unarmed. Police said he was shot after reaching for an officer’s gun.