VENICE (CBSLA.com) — A 25-year-old man suspected of harassing people near the Venice Boardwalk was shot and killed after getting into a scuffle with officers, authorities said.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said Wednesday he’s “very concerned” about the man’s death, noting he sees no evidence to justify why the shooting took place. He said it generally takes “extraordinary circumstances” for police to shoot an unarmed person, and it’s unclear if those circumstances existed in Tuesday night’s shooting.
Two officers responded to a disturbance call around 11:20 p.m. at Windward and Pacific avenues, an area known for bars and restaurants.
“One of the bar employees called the police and said there was a individual, possibly a transient, outside in front of the bar who was harassing people walking by,” Cmdr. Andy Smith said.
Two officers arrived and spoke to the man, who then walked away.
But the officers say they later saw the man struggling with someone on the sidewalk. When they approached the suspect a second time, they saw a physical altercation and one officer fired his weapon.
Beck said he has viewed surveillance video of the incident, and it “shows a series of events” that aligns with the officers’ report of what happened, including the “physical altercation” that set off the shooting.
The suspect was treated at the scene by paramedics but died at a hospital.
One officer sustained a knee injury.
Both the suspect and the officer who fired the shots are black, Beck said.
A group of community activists, who have been condemning fatal police shootings of black men across the country, plan to gather outside LAPD headquarters Wednesday evening to call for a federal civil-rights investigation into the shooting.
Investigators are trying to collect surveillance video from cameras at nearby businesses. The officers were not wearing body cameras.
Police are holding off on interviewing the injured officer because he’s been sedated while undergoing medical treatment.
“We have not been able to interview the officer at this point,” Beck said. “I don’t know what was in the officer’s mind. We expect to know more
tomorrow. At this point, it appears that it was a physical altercation.”
Beck says both officers will be questioned and have been placed on administrative leave during the investigation.
Police have not yet released the suspect’s identity.
People in the area told CBS2/KCAL9’s Randy Paige that his name is Brendan and that he battled drug and alcohol addictions.
“I’ve seen him drunk before many times,” said Allison Holden, who says she’s known Brendan for a month. “I’ve actually got him out of the cops’ hold before. They were trying to arrest him one night for being too loud, and I got him away with a ticket.
“He would never raise his hand to anybody, ever. So for them to shoot him like that doesn’t make any sense,” she said.
Timothy Pardue works at Venice P.A.D. (Protection and Direction), a drop-in spot for homeless people and troubled young adults that is about 40 feet from the site of the shooting. He said he knew the suspect for about a month and a half: “He’s been coming in here for services, and he was in last night. He was talking about his mom and things he’s been going through. He was crying.”
Pardue said the suspect was intoxicated when he saw him Tuesday. He added the he’d been in a fight a few days before.
“It’s tough at night when I close up the door and know that they’re out there,” Pardue said.
L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey says she can’t comment on the case because its an ongoing investigation. She did say that the LAPD has crisis-prevention teams to help deal with the mentally ill but further resources are needed, which the police chief says he’d also like to see.
The community will likely address the incident during a local town hall meeting slated for Thursday.