It's possible the police were justified in shooting the man known to locals as "Africa." But considering how the Times equivocated about what's visible in the video, it seems Smith and Beck have so far doled out more propaganda than credible information.
In those moments when the guns come out, it is a difficult and dangerous job. But difficult and dangerous circumstances are when all that training is supposed to kick in, not be abandoned in a moment of "incredible tension."
One of the lowest moments for the LAPD came when Sergeant Stacey Koon publicly defended the use of force against Rodney King. While the LAPD has clearly changed, there are still some troubling signs that more needs to be done.