Online video shows Los Angeles police shooting homeless man

Police officers wrestling with the homeless man, whom they later fatally shot, in the background of a video posted online. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK VIDEO
Police officers wrestling with the homeless man, whom they later fatally shot, in the background of a video posted online. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK VIDEO

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Los Angeles police officers fatally shot a homeless man on Sunday in an incident that was caught on video and posted online, local media reported.

The graphic video, which was posted on Facebook, shows a violent altercation between a man and several officers in LA's Skid Row area near downtown.

The circumstances around the shooting were not immediately clear but the video appears to show a man flailing at officers as they try to subdue him.

A voice yelling "Drop the gun!" can be heard before several shots ring out and several onlookers cry out in alarm.

The Los Angeles Police Department didn't immediately return a call for comment, but local media said at least one officer had opened fire.

The man was declared dead at a hospital soon after the shooting, police spokesman Sergeant Barry Montgomery told the Los Angeles Times.

Skid Row is a run-down area that houses many hostels and services for the region's homeless people, some of whom pitch tents on the sidewalks.

Officers were responding to a robbery call and a witness said the victim had been fighting with someone in his tent, the Times reported.

The video comes against a backdrop of highly publicised police shootings of black men that sparked weeks of protests late last year.

A local CBS television affiliate reported that tensions in the area remained high for hours after the shooting.

The video also shows police grabbing a woman after she picks up a baton that an officer dropped, then appears to raise it.

Viewer discretion needed as the video may be distressing.