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Commission to release Westlake shooting info

March 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Officers say they shot and killed Guatemalan immigrant Manuel Jimenez when he threatened them and others with a knife. The shootings set off three days of demonstrations.

The shooting happened at 6th and Union and since that time there have been protests, and investigations. The results of one will soon be known. Tuesday members of an immigrant advocacy group sounded off about what they say the results should be.

Westlake is a district of many immigrant businesses, independent vendors and laborers looking for work.

On a typical day, it is hard to imagine the clash of seven months ago: Three nights of protests, 20 people arrested in scuffles with police.

Outrage was sparked when LAPD Officer Frank Hernandez shot and killed a Guatemalan immigrant, 37-year-old Manuel Jaminez Xum allegedly was drunk and lunged at officers with a knife after threatening a pregnant woman.

Yet that description is disputed by some community advocates and there are still some hard feelings against police.

Tuesday, members of the Southern California Immigration Coalition faced the Los Angeles Police Commission. The board will decide in closed session next week whether the shooting was justified. According to preliminary information, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck says Jaminez Xum was armed.

"There was a knife found," said Beck. "The vast majority of the witnesses described the knife, described the actions. There's a lot of angst about this in the community and a lot of misinformation."

Advocates say it could have been handled differently.

"Many people in the community saw that Jaminez was no serious threat to anyone. He was too drunk to walk and could barely stand and there are people who even said he didn't have a weapon," said Carlos Montes, Southern California Immigrant Coalition.

Since the disturbances, Beck says LAPD has opened lines of communication, establishing a Guatemalan immigrant council, conducted outreach to vendors and the day-laborer community, initiated days of dialogue with officers who walk the beat.

For some like this woman, it has a made a difference. She says she can't take sides on the Jaminez Xum shooting, but she says she does trust the police to protect her.

The commission will release its finding in two to three weeks. Meantime, the immigrant advocacy group plans a protest at the district attorney's office. They say they want the officer involved in that shooting to be prosecuted.