Los Angeles police officers shot and critically wounded an unarmed man who ‘appeared to be in distress’ after he raised his towel-wrapped hand at cops when they approached him on Friday.
The officers thought he was brandishing a gun, a department spokeswoman said on Saturday.
The man, whose identity has not been released and is in his 30s, was in critical condition after sustaining a visible head injury and being handcuffed in broad daylight.
The man was walking on a busy street in the Los Feliz neighborhood when police approached him around 6.30pm, Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman Rosario Herrera said.
As officers exited their patrol car, the man extended a towel-wrapped hand at them, Herrera said.
The two officers told the individual to drop the gun before firing, she said.
The number of shots fired by police is still being investigated, Herrera said.
The man was later determined to have been unarmed and no weapon was found at the scene.
A passing motorist recorded police arresting the man, who was bleeding from the head and appeared to be unconscious, and posted the video online, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A department spokesman said the officers were following protocol by handcuffing the suspect.
LAPD Cmdr Andrew Smith said: ‘We always do that.
‘That’s the policy… to handcuff someone in a situation like that.’
An investigation into the shooting is ongoing and police will look at whether it is possible the man was attempting ‘suicide by cop’.
Smith added: ‘We cover everything. Our investigators leave no stone unturned.
‘We don’t have any idea about this guy’s background. We just don’t know yet.’
The incident is the latest in a string of police-involved shootings in Los Angeles, and comes amid nationwide protests over policing tactics and use of force, especially in minority communities.
In May, Los Angeles police shot and killed an unarmed and homeless black man in Venice, prompting protests and a town hall meeting to discuss law enforcement’s relationship with the community.
Earlier this month, the Los Angeles police chief and an independent watchdog determined two patrolmen were justified in the shooting death of unarmed black man Ezell Ford last year.
Ford was killed two days after the fatal police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, which triggered a wave of protests across the country calling for a reform of policing tactics.