LAPD shot and killed a man on the Hollywood Walk of Fame after mistaking his lighter for a gun. The shocking incident occurred on Hollywood’s famed boulevard, causing chaos on the busy tourist trail and further accusations of unreasonable use of force against law enforcement.
An LAPD spokesman said that about 11:20 a.m. police officers, arriving on Hollywood Boulevard near Highland Avenue along the Walk of Fame, “saw a man armed with a gun.” Police did not say how many officers fired their weapons or how many bullets struck the man but claimed that an “actual gun” was found at the scene. A police spokesman declined to name the object the man may have been holding or to confirm whether it was lighter. The object bore some resemblance to the shape of a gun, but did not resemble commercially available pistol-shaped lighters, the Guardian noted. Police also released photos of the small knife but did not provide any additional details about it. Surveillance footage shows a man standing outside a McDonald’s with his hand raised and holding something in his hand. Police have not released any footage yet, and a spokesman said it will be released within 45 days. “People started screaming, kids started crying, tourists were confused,” a local resident told the LA Times, adding that it all happened very quickly.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta said his office has launched a murder investigation under new legislation requiring the state to vet police killings of unarmed civilians. AB1506 went into effect in July and seeks to ensure the independence of investigations into police killings, which traditionally have been vetted by local district attorneys closely tied to police departments. A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said this is his agency’s first investigation under the new law. Within hours of the killing, members of the Los Angeles public questioned the legality of using a gun against a man who was unarmed. Some also criticized the police department for initially assuming that the cops were holding a firearm and only later admitting, on condition of anonymity, that it was actually lighter. Police later released a photo of a bronze or silver object lying on the ground that appeared to be a new lighter. The man, who was in his 40s, has not yet been identified. Authorities say he died in the hospital after the shooting.