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Undercover LAPD officer shoots man with knife

Officers saw the man using a knife to slice up what appeared to be narcotics at 5th and Spring streets in downtown Los Angeles. The man later died at a hospital.

May 11, 2011|By Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times

A transient who was fatally shot by an undercover police officer during a confrontation on a downtown street Tuesday afternoon was armed with a knife, Los Angeles police said.

The shooting occurred about 12:20 p.m. near 5th and Spring streets.

It was initially reported that the man was shot during a robbery. But police now say detectives were walking in the neighborhood when they saw the 35-year-old man cutting up what appeared to be narcotics.

The detectives confronted the man and attempted to take him into custody, police said.

The man turned toward the detectives, authorities said. The detectives stepped back and the man was shot, police said. It was unclear if one or more officers fired.

The detectives immediately called for paramedics. The man later died from his injuries. His name was not immediately released, pending notification of relatives.

Irene Fertik, a freelance photographer who lives on Spring Street, was returning home from grand jury duty and was about to cross the street at 5th and Spring when she heard two shots.

"I looked up and saw an undercover cop with his gun out pointed at the fallen man," Fertik said. "There was no blood, and the man was facing down."

Fertik pulled out her iPhone and started snapping photographs. Meanwhile, a crowd was gathering and people were asking the officer, who was showing his badge, why he shot the suspect.

She said the officer who fired the shots yelled, "He's got a knife under him!" Fertik said. She noted that the officer was angry that she had photographed the scene, telling her, "Shame on you for photographing a dying man."

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