A man was fatally shot by Los Angeles police officers Tuesday after allegedly pulling a gun on paramedics and then firing a round at officers from inside an apartment, police said.
LAPD officers have now shot or shot at seven people in 2022, killing four of them.
Los Angeles Fire Department personnel knocked on the door of the apartment after responding to a report of a “medical emergency” in the 100 block of West 5th Street at about 8:30 a.m. That’s when the man came out armed with a handgun, causing the paramedics to leave the scene and call for police, said Capt. Kelly Muniz, an LAPD spokesman.
When officers from the Central Division arrived, the man came out of the apartment a second time and allegedly pointed the gun at the officers, Muniz said.
Those officers also retreated and called in the LAPD’s SWAT unit as well as a Systemwide Mental Assessment Response Team, or SMART. Such teams, of which there are 12 in the city, pair LAPD officers with medical clinicians who are specially trained to handle calls involving people suffering from mental illness.
Muniz said she did not know the nature of the medical emergency that had initially been reported. The man was not identified as of Tuesday.
Officers set up a perimeter around the location and began trying to negotiate with the man to come outside unarmed, to no avail, Muniz said.
“They made several attempts to try to make contact with the individual, and he would not correspond with them in any fashion,” she said.
The SWAT unit then decided to deploy tear gas into the fifth-floor apartment, Muniz said. After it did so, the man allegedly came to the window and fired a single round out of the apartment toward officers, Muniz said.
Police shot back, striking the man, Muniz said. She said she did not know how many officers fired.
The man was pronounced dead at the scene, where Muniz said a gun was also recovered. The incident caused closures of East Main Street from 3rd to 6th streets, and of 5th Street from Los Angeles Avenue to Spring Street.
The shooting will be investigated and the findings presented to the LAPD’s civilian oversight commission. Such investigations often take up to a year. Available video from the encounter should be released within 45 days, per LAPD policy.
LAPD shootings involving mentally ill people have been on the rise.
LAPD officers opened fire 37 times in 2021, killing 18 people, which was a substantial increase from the 27 shootings by officers, seven of them fatal, in 2020.
The 2021 shootings involved 17 people who were perceived to be suffering from mental illness, a substantial increase from the six people with perceived mental illness who were shot in 2020.
In light of last year’s increase, LAPD Chief Michel Moore has said the department was auditing its training on the use of lethal force. It also is committed to building out its capacity to send SMART teams more often to try to deescalate tense situations, he said. More such teams would be funded through Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposed budget for the LAPD.
Critics say the department is not serious about ending police shootings. They argue that, rather than receiving more money, the LAPD should be stripped of funding so alternative social services, including for the mentally ill, can be funded more heavily.