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LAPD, protesters clash over Westlake shooting

September 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
For the second night in a row, angry protesters clashed with police over the officer-involved fatal shooting of a man armed with a knife Sunday.Los Angeles Police Department police in riot gear met with about 300 protesters, some who threw rocks, fruit, bottles and eggs. Officers fired back with nonlethal projectiles and arrested 22 demontrators.

Earlier Tuesday, police Chief Charlie Beck ordered a thorough investigation into the shooting death of Manuel Jamines by a 13-year LAPD veteran.

Beck and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa held a press conference calling for patience while the investigation is conducted.

Community leaders met at the Guatemalan consulate earlier to talk about a peaceful end to the destructive protests in MacArthur Park that resulted in four arrests and three injured police officers on Labor Day.

People who knew Jamines describe him as a hard-working man who was just trying to earn money for the family he left behind in Guatemala.

But on Sunday afternoon, witnesses painted a different picture of the 37-year-old. They said that Jamines was drunk while walking along a busy strip mall as he threatened pedestrians with a knife that he wouldn't put down.

Witnesses flagged down police, who ultimately shot and killed Jamines after he reportedly lunged at officers, knife in hand.

Jamines was a construction worker from Guatemala. Friends said he did not speak English, but the LAPD said officers gave him orders in both English and in Spanish, but Jamines chose not to put down that knife.

"The officers acted in self defense when this gentleman lunged at them with a knife, and it's unfortunate that's the way it happened, but we're here to try and provide as many facts as we can to the members of the community," said LAPD Capt. Rigo Romero.

The shooting sparked protests in the Westlake District on Monday night, but police said the chaos had nothing to do with people who were attending a candlelight vigil for Jamines that started Monday afternoon on Sixth Street and Union Avenue, which was where the shooting took place.

According to authorities, the problems didn't start until about 100 to 150 people showed up to protest against the LAPD.

Protesters marched to the Rampart station at least three times and then down to Alvarado Street several times. Around 7:30 p.m., police said the crowd initiated a confrontation by throwing rocks, bottles and eggs at officers who were directing traffic in the area.

Police in riot gear shut down Sixth Street and tried to get the crowd to disperse, but protesters then began setting trash cans and mattresses on fire, all while continuing to pelt police officers with bottles and eggs.

The situation did not calm down until late Monday night and police were still on patrol until around 2 or 3 a.m. on Tuesday.

Jamines's cousin says he was drunk but says his cousin was not a violent person. He feels police shot him in the head with the intention to kill him instead of trying to stopping him.

"They have pepper spray. They have batons. They have handcuffs. They could have easily dropped him on the floor and get the handcuffs. That's why they're trained," said L.A. resident Fernando Luis.

The Guatemalan Consul General says there are different stories about what happened.

"I talked with the department of police and family in Guatemala, that it is necessary of clearing the investigation about what happened in this situation," said Pablo Cesar Garcia Saenz, Consul General of Guatemala.

Attorney Luis Carrillo met with the Guatemalan Consul Tuesday morning. Carrillo said it's all too familiar with the LAPD.

"Now that the consent decree has been lifted and the police are voluntarily policing itself, we're seeing that they're resorting to their old ways, their old tactics, which is to shoot first and ask questions later," said Carrillo.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck defended the officers' actions, saying the man was threatening several people, and the he was told both in English and in Spanish to drop the knife, but instead he moved toward officers aggressively.

People in the Westlake District said there will likely be another showing of protesters on Tuesday night, but they're hoping for a peaceful demonstration instead of a repeat of Monday's chaos.

"Nobody wants nobody hurt. Everyone just wants peace," said Luis.

Donation boxes to help Jamines' family were set up at the intersection. The Consul General of Guatemala said that the consulate will be helping with the cost of trying to get Jamines' body back to his home country.

The officer involved in this shooting has been put on leave, which is standard procedure with any officer-involved shooting.


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