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Police fatally shoot man in Westlake

September 5, 2010 |  3:56 pm

L.A. police shot and killed a man who was allegedly armed with a knife and threatening people in the middle of a crowded shopping district near downtown, authorities said.

Three officers with the bicycle unit of LAPD's Rampart division were patrolling the area near 6th and Union streets in the Westlake District when a pedestrian flagged them down and told them a man with a knife was threatening people, Cmdr. Blake Chou said. Officers ordered him to drop the knife and fired the fatal shots when he didn't comply, he said. Chou said the man, whose identity was not released, may have lunged at the officers.

The officers involved were taken to the station where they were being interviewed, and LAPD's force investigation division was on scene, Chou said.

At the scene, crowds of weekend shoppers, many with young children, swarmed around the police tape cordoning off two blocks lined with dollar stores, liquor shops, and a Food 4 Less. The sheet-covered body, with blood running down the sidewalk, was in plain sight on the street corner. Three bicycles were near the body, two on their side and one standing.

Residents angrily yelled at police, cursing at them and calling them killers. Some said the man was a vagrant who was well known in the neighborhood, but was not dangerous. They said they heard three gunshots, but police could not immediately say how many shots were fired.

--Victoria Kim