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LAPD fatal downtown shooting raises controversy

Police say a man fatally shot downtown by officers was armed with a knife. But witnesses tell a different story.

May 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Police said a man shot and killed by undercover officers on Tuesday was armed with a knife. But witnesses and residents in downtown Los Angeles tell a different story.

Members and supporters of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, an advocacy group for the residents of Skid Row, are asking for a thorough and transparent investigation into the shooting death of a man outside the Alexandria Hotel at 5th Street and Spring Street.

According to police two undercover narcotics officers approached a man, only identified to be around 50 years old, apparently cutting up some drugs on Tuesday.

When the two undercover officers approached the man, police said the suspect turned around with a knife in his hand. More words were exchanged when one of the officers shot the man.

"He had his knife still in his holster," said one witness who wants to remain anonymous. On Tuesday, he along with other witnesses, said that the man police shot never pulled a knife on them.

"The police officer was facing south on Spring," said another anonymous witness who said he was just a few feet away when he heard the shots. "Next thing I know, he yells out 'The guy's got a knife.'"

Following their news conference, LA CAN went inside the LAPD's Central Station demanding a meeting with the deputy chief. What they got was a meeting with the station commander. The meeting lasted about half an hour.

"The one firm commitment we got from Capt. Chamberlain is that he would attend a community forum to hear the grievances of the community," said Pete White from LA CAN.

"The investigation, although it is done by the LAPD, it is also scrutinized and looked at by the inspector general's office, the district attorney's office," said Capt. Todd Chamberlain. "A number of entities have their hands on that investigation to ensure that is complete and thorough."

According to the commander, detectives will take approximately 10 months to one year to complete their investigation.

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