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Tag: topaz

Homeless L.A. man back with his pit bull

I was driving down Century Boulevard when I spotted them — a homeless man, judging from the Vons grocery cart he was pushing down the sidewalk, and a three-legged pit bull in a service dog vest, hobbling alongside, her leash tied to the cart.

I made a u-turn, saw him walking down Hawthorne and, after one more u-turn, pulled my rental car alongside the man and dog as they turned down 101st Street.

His name is Mike Reed, and his dog’s name is Topaz, and as we sat on the sidewalk and talked — next to his bottle of King Cobra malt liquor in a black plastic bag — Topaz, weary from a just completed walk, snoozed on the concrete, wearing a service dog vest that said “Don’t Touch Me, I’m Working.”

Reed has had Topaz for five years. He takes care of her. She takes care of him, helping him cope with life on the streets — the kind of life that can turn violent at any second, and on Aug. 31 did just that.

On that day, he and Topaz found themselves standing innocently in the middle of a confrontation between another homeless man and officers from the Inglewood Police Department.

Reed had just met the man minutes earlier — after the man entered a store and an employee noticed what appeared to be a gun in his pants. Police were called, and tracked the man down. Not knowing whether Reed was an accomplice, officers put Reed in a squad car. Topaz remained on the sidewalk, leashed to Reed’s grocery cart.

As Reed decribes it, police told the suspect to put his hands in the air. The suspect raised and lowered his hands two times. The third time he lowered them, he reached for what police thought was a gun, and a barrage of shots followed.

The gun turned out to be a plastic toy.

Four or five shots struck Topaz, one shattering her hip bone.

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