Public Outrage over yet another Los Angeles Police killing
Compiled from various sources
published: 4WardEver UK – August 2011
Updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item
On 5th September 2010 Manuel Jamines, a 37-year-old Guatemalan day laborer (who witnesses say was unarmed) was shot in the head and killed by an officer from the notorious Rampart Division, site of one of the worst police scandals in U.S. history. But this time, the shooting resulted in an eruption of protest, with residents angrily confronting police for several nights and an ongoing vigil to demand justice in yet another case of deadly police violence.
The killing took place in the Westlake area of LA, which is sandwiched between the increasingly gentrified downtown and the predominantly immigrant MacArthur Park neighbourhood.
Manuel was shot and killed by LAPD officer Frank Hernandez after supposedly lunging at Hernandez with a switchblade.
According to official police story, Jamines had been threatening two women with a knife. One of the women flagged down three bicycle police officers, who claimed that after they drew their weapons Manuel charged at them with the knife, and the officers responded by killing him on the spot.
Initially, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck offered a detailed account of the shooting. He emphasized that the department’s internal investigation into the shooting had only just begun and said initial accounts from witnesses and the officers involved indicate that the officer who fired acted “in immediate defence of life.”
Police maintained that Manuel refused commands to drop his weapon when he was shot. They claimed that officers recovered a knife from the scene. But residents say the official version of the shooting is full of holes. Relatives said Manuel was hard-working but struggled with alcohol on the weekends. “He liked to drink, but was never violent,” said Juan Jamines, a cousin. “I don’t know why police had to kill him.”
Whilst at the Guatemalan Consulate’s office to discuss the transfer of Manuel’s’ body to Nahuala, Solola, (his hometown in Guatemala), Juan and two other cousins said they wanted answers from the police. They had also pleaded with the community to remain calm; “We don’t want problems,” Juan Jamines said. “We just want justice.”
On the three nights following the killing, residents and activists turned out for angry demonstrations, with some throwing rocks at police and setting dumpsters on fire. The protests ended with clashes between police and protesters and dozens of people were arrested.
Campaigners maintained that the media took the police side and hinted that the confrontations were the work of “outside agitators.” LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the officer a hero, according to the KPCC radio station in Pasadena.
It was claimed that the officer who fired the two shots that killed Manuel was Frank Hernandez. He has two other prior shootings of civilians and has a reputation for brutality. In 2008, Officer Hernandez shot Joseph Wolf, then 18, in the back of his left thigh. Police Hernandez then fabricated a story that Wolf had a gun and shot him in defence. No gun was found at the scene, but police charged Wolf with assault with a deadly weapon.
Charges against the victim were later dropped by the district attorney as baseless. Wolf’s lawyer said that the charges against Joseph were falsely brought up to cover up the unlawful use of force by policeman Hernandez. Hernandez was allowed to continue to be on patrol.
Police in Los Angeles have a long history of planting weapons on dead or shot civilians to cover up their deadly, unlawful and racist use of violence against Blacks, Chicanos and Central Americans.
Outrage over LAPD killing of Manuel Jamines
24 September 2010
LAPD shooting stirs residents’ anger
15 September 2010
Manuel Jamines, Guatemalan day laborer killed by LA police
12 September 2010