LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Police Department defended two officers who fatally shot a naked man they said tried to take their guns, while community activists questioned the use of deadly force.

The officers were “fighting for their lives” while they struggled with Reginald Doucet Jr. after he stripped and caused an early morning disturbance in the Playa Vista area, police union president Paul Weber, said in a statement Saturday.

During the struggle Friday, the 25-year-old Doucet repeatedly punched both officers in the face and head and, at one point, tried to take one of the officer’s guns, police said. At that point, that officer shot Doucet, who was unarmed, police said.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a prominent civil rights activist, questioned why officers couldn’t have used non-lethal means to subdue Doucet.

“Is it always going to be a situation where you’re going to use deadly force? Because if so, that’s a problem,” said Hutchinson, who heads the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable. He attended a vigil at the shooting site Saturday.

Hutchinson called on police Chief Charlie Beck to review the department’s training and tactics in dealing with unarmed suspects, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Weber called it “disappointing” that community leaders were questioning the actions of the police. When Doucet reached for the officer’s gun, he “set in motion the chain of events that sadly led to his death,” said Weber, head of the Los Angeles Police Protective League.

“An officer who loses his gun to a suspect, loses his life,” he added.

Doucet, a former college football player and Playa Vista resident, was naked and behaving erratically when he was confronted by officers around 3 a.m. Friday. As officers attempted to talk to him, but he ran off to an area where he had left his boxer shorts.

The officers tried a second time to speak to Doucet, but he ran to a nearby apartment complex, police said.

When they tried a third time to detain Doucet in the doorway of the apartment complex, he attacked both officers, police said.

During the ensuing struggle he was shot and later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Chris Ellison, Doucet’s neighbor and former agent, told the Times he was shocked by the incident, including Doucet’s alleged behavior.

“What bothers me is that if he was naked, they knew for a fact that he didn’t have any weapons on him,” Ellison said. “Were the police really getting whooped that bad that they needed to shoot him twice? They can’t pull out a billy club? They can’t Tase him? They have to shoot him?”

The two officers were also wounded, one to his ankle and face and the other to his jaw and head. Two other officers received minor injuries when their patrol car crashed en route to the scene, police said.

The officer who shot Doucet had been with the LAPD for 17 months, and the other officer was a 5-year force veteran, police said.

Doucet was 6 feet tall and weighed 190 pounds when he played defensive back at Middle Tennessee State University, according to his biography there.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (4)
  1. Chris Webber Jr. says:

    @elliott the rat, here’s some of your good ole boys, killing a blackman of higher education in a all white neighborhood, cleary unarmed. sounds like bullsh!t that he tried to fight and take their weapons, especially since there are no cameras or suspect to tell his side of the story. the lady that call the police says he was screaming before the police came, so he might have been a victim himself. the witness basically justified him being killed saying he was making noise in a quiet neighborhood.

    1. Fred Harris says:

      Typical, you don’t know the facts, but you come to the suspects rescue just because he is black. No Rodney, “we all can’t just get along.”

  2. What??? says:

    It doesn’t matter what color you are, when the police say, “Halt” you halt. Unless you’re a criminal, or crazy. For all we know the officers were the same color as the suspect the article doesn’t say.

  3. Options says:

    If the police had used a tazer it would have been considered excessive. If the police had used pepper spray it would have been considered excessive. If the police would have used clubs it would have been considered excessive. If the police would have put the suspect in a choke hold it would have been considered excessive. If the police would have let the suspect walk away they would be criticized for not doing their job.

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