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Los Angeles police officers shot and killed a robbery suspect during an altercation in which the man tried to snatch an officer's gun in downtown LA's Skid Row neighborhood, the department said Monday.
Video of the incident posted online over the weekend shows the man, who witnesses said was homeless, wildly swinging at the cops who then wrestle him to the ground. In the footage filmed around noon on Sunday, someone is repeatedly heard shouting "drop the gun," and seconds later, five shots ring out.
Police said in a statement that the man was a robbery suspect and was resisting the officers as they tried to take him into custody. The statement said officers then used a Taser to subdue the man, and the officers and suspect all fell onto the pavement.
"While on the ground, the suspect and officers struggled over one of the officer's handguns and then an officer involved shooting occurred," the statement said.
In the video, shocked bystanders can be heard yelling, "They just shot that man," and "Ain't nobody got no gun."
Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Andrew Smith told reporters late Sunday that the six officers seen in the video, one of which is a sergeant, were responding to a report of a robbery. There was no gun found at the scene, Smith told reporters.
"The video is disturbing," Smith said. "It's disturbing any time anyone loses their life. It's a tragedy."
The man was declared dead at a hospital Sunday afternoon, according to police spokesman Sgt. Barry Montgomery.
ABC7 reports that three police officers involved in the shooting have been placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigation into the incident. It's believed that at least one officer was wearing a body camera that recorded the incident.
The LAPD tweeted its version of events early Monday:
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) March 2, 2015
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) March 2, 2015
Witness Yolanda Young told CBS2 that the altercation occurred over an argument in a tent.
"Next thing I know, dude swung on a cop and the cop swung back," she said. "And they were hitting on him and then two other cop cars pulled up and they got out of the car and ran over there, and they had three Tasers out."
Witnesses say that the dead man was known as "Africa," and had been living on the streets for around four or five months after spending 10 years in a facility where he received treatment for mental illness.
According to the LA Area Chamber of Commerce, there are around 2,500 homeless people living in the Skid Row area of LA.
The video has prompted angry reactions as it has spread across social media, and the hashtag #LAPDshooting has trended on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the police union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, asked the public in a statement to "reserve their judgment as there is much to learn about the incident."
Police said an internal investigation conducted with the department's Office of Inspector General will be carried out to determine whether the officers' were justified in their use of deadly force. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck also said two of the officers involved were wearing body cameras and footage from those devices will be included as part of the investigation.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office is also reportedly reviewing the incident.