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Probe demand over homeless shooting

US civil rights leaders are calling for an independent investigation into the fatal police shooting of a homeless man.

Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable president Earl Ofari Hutchinson asked governor Jerry Brown to appoint a special investigator to examine the killing in the city's Skid Row area.

Police said a man identified as "Africa" was shot while grabbing for an officer's gun during a struggle.

The shooting was captured on video by a witness and has been viewed more than six million times after being posted on Facebook.

Mr Hutchinson said he and other civil rights leaders want an impartial, transparent and speedy investigation to determine if the shooting was a crime.

Police Commission president Steve Soboroff said the independent inspector general and the district attorney have begun investigating.

The graphic video shows the man wrestling with police amid the tents, sleeping bags and rubbish of Skid Row, where many of the city's homeless live.

The three officers involved, one of whom is a sergeant, shot the man as they struggled on the ground for control of one police weapon, after a stun gun proved ineffective, Los Angeles Police Department Commander Andrew Smith said. The officers had been responding to a report of a robbery.

Police said they planned to use the video in their investigation.

Mr Smith said the department would attempt to amplify the video's sound and pictures to work out exactly what happened. He said at least one of the officers was also wearing a body camera.

The video shows six officers initially responding to the scene and begin wrestling with the man as he takes swings at them.

Two of the officers break away to subdue and handcuff a woman who has picked up one of their dropped batons.

The struggle becomes increasingly blurry and distant but shouting can be heard, including the word "gun", followed by five apparent gunshots.

Witnesses told the Los Angeles Times that the man was known on the street as Africa, and that he had been there for four or five months.

The Los Angeles police chief said officers shot the man after he grabbed an officer's holster.

Charlie Beck said evidence shows that the slide of the officer's gun was partly engaged, indicating it was part of struggle.

Mr Beck said the man was killed after he refused officers' commands. Police were trying to speak to him about a reported robbery.

He added that one officer in the video said "He has my gun" several times before three other officers opened fire.


From Belfast Telegraph