LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Facing a wave of mounting public outcry, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck on Tuesday defended an officer’s shooting of a knife-wielding man whose death sparked a violent protest in which demonstrators pelted police with rocks and bottles.

Beck Pledges “Transparent” Investigation Process

Beck told the Police Commission that witness and officer accounts indicate that the officer who killed Guatemalan immigrant Manuel Jamines on Sunday acted “in immediate defense of life” and that he was warned in English and Spanish to drop the knife, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The shooting prompted demonstrations Monday afternoon near MacArthur Park in an inner-city area west of downtown with a large population of Spanish-speaking immigrants from Central America. Demonstrators marched back and forth between a bustling shopping area where the shooting occurred and the Rampart police station three blocks away. Some held a a candlelight vigil.

On Monday night, some protesters began hurling rocks, bottles and debris at officers and set some trash on fire. By the time the confrontation ended at about 2 a.m. Tuesday, four people had been arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor inciting a riot, Officer Bruce Borihanh said.

Three officers were slightly injured by hurled debris but returned to duty, he said.

Lt. Andrew Neiman claimed “provocateurs” started the confrontation, according to reports.

There was no further violence Tuesday, but officers planned to keep squads on streets in the area through the day, he added.

Beck provided a detailed preliminary account of the shooting to the civilian commission that oversees the police force. He said three bicycle patrol officers were flagged down Sunday afternoon and told that a man with a knife was threatening people.

Some people in the neighborhood have said that Jamines understood little or no English. However, Beck said officers who spotted the man repeatedly ordered him, in both English and Spanish, to drop the knife. Instead, he raised it over his head and moved toward the officers, one of whom fired two shots at him, Beck said.

Jamines, 37, was pronounced dead at the scene. Friends said he was a construction worker and father of three.

Protesters contended the man was drunk but not dangerous and say officers should have used a non-lethal weapon to subdue him. Beck said bicycle officers frequently do not carry the selection of non-lethal weapons that are found in patrol cars.

Neiman said Jamines was known in the neighborhood as a habitually drunk nuisance and that witnesses identified him as threatening people with the knife before he was shot, City News Service said.

“One of those was a woman who said she saw the suspect threatening a woman with a knife,” he said. “Her attention was
drawn by a crying 4-year-old who was standing next to the woman.” The witness said she told the man to “go away” because he was scaring people and then he threatened her as well, Neiman said. The police union issued a statement Tuesday calling the shooting a “tragic accident” but said community activists were trying to stir up controversy.

“Getting drunk and threatening bystanders and then LAPD officers with a knife is dangerous and self-destructive in any
language,” said the statement from the Los Angeles Police Protective League. “This was not and should not be a controversial shooting.”

MacArthur Park was the site of a May 1, 2007, clash, where police officers pummeled immigration rights marchers and reporters with batons and shot rubber bullets into the crowd. Dozens of protesters and journalists were injured as officers cleared the park.

The embarrassing incident cost the city more than $13 million in lawsuit settlements. Police were retrained on crowd control, forming skirmish lines, using batons in a crowd and using extraction teams to identify and arrest violent demonstrators.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (17)
  1. Marilyn Burch says:

    This is getting such high attention. Why didn’t the shooting in the high desert on July 26,2010get evrn a fraction of the attention????? This man was not armed and still was shot in the back of the head!!!!!!!!

  2. vudu says:

    So am I understanding that the people protesting the police action said he was just drunk? As if that was a reasonable excuse for brandishing a weapon and threatening people with it? I hate that …. let’s blame the alcohol and not the person belief system.

  3. robert says:

    you know this is not the first time this has happened “rampart” cops have killed people before and have gone as far as to covering it up, you should look up the rampart scandal, around this area alot of police officers are hated.. .. rampart has a history of abuse

    1. nobama2012 says:

      You are an idiot!!!! Rampart cops are good people protecting the all the illegals.

  4. Stan Smith says:

    If he hasn’t here illegally, he would be alive today!

  5. raquel says:

    I’m a hispanic and im tired of people hiding behind the race card, i doubt the police has time to find out his legal status. The police, fire and emt’s have the toughtest jobs they never know what kind of scene they are riding up to. What would any of us have done if a guy (a drunk guy) came at us with a knife. pause and reason with him? Grab it? I dont think so.. police have seconds to act. and the rampart scanel was yrs. ago and those people were delt with get over it.

  6. Darius Trugman says:

    Robert, your ignorance is amazing. How many officers were ever dismissed from the department or arrested in connection with the Rampart scandal? 2! This out of 300 officers. This was more than ten years ago. Rampart serves the poorest and most densely populated part of the city. You should try a night out on patrol. And when someone comes at you with a knife….just wave at them…no force..ok!

  7. GorillaDad says:

    Great job LAPD. Theses officers actions potentially saved the lives of many innocent people. Deadly force is met with deadly force, bottom line. Time for the idiots rioting to go back home.

  8. Mateo says:

    Raquel, Daarius, and GorillaDad, as someone who lives one block from MacArthur Park, your comments are right on!

  9. theresa says:

    I believe the police handled the situation correctly. He was drunk, had a knife, and was threatening to harm people. He could not be reasoned with. What were they supposed to do? He had to be stopped before he killed someone!

    1. Joe Castillo says:

      I dont think so…
      weather the suspect had a knife or not
      killing him was not the answer
      hand to hand combat and self defense is all it takes
      believe me I have been in this situation before and the suspect is till in custody for assault to an officer.

  10. lois says:

    People need to take responsibility for their actions, no matter what their race. If the man had been sober he probably would not have had a knife in his hand. It is only his own fault. As far as the rioters go, rocks can be deadly projectiles. I think they ought to be in jail for attempted murder. Maybe then they could be responsible for their actions, too

  11. Stan Smith says:

    No Se Puede Manuel Jamines…..

  12. Joe Castillo says:

    Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck….

    Afraid? Then why did you choose this career?
    Weather the suspect had a knife or not killing him was not
    the answer. Most of your officers are ex military or
    have academy training. This is what my tax dollars
    pay your salary for? I have 10+ years experience in different
    environments and I have never shot anyone whatsoever,
    self defense and hand to hand combat is all its takes
    in this situation. If your too afraid to do your job
    then QUIT!

    Chief Charlie Beck I hope you read this.

    1. Mufon says:

      Calm down, Steven Seagal.

  13. derk says:

    Had this man been your father, brother or friend you might be responding differently, the fact is the officer who shot him point blank (2 times in the head) did this for other reasons then his own defense. 3 other officers at the same distance and same scene DID NOT FEEL THE NEED TO KILL. This same officer had a similar incident a year prior where he shot an UNARMED man and then made up similar stories to cover up his crime. This was murder by a trigger happy cop who has shot before without good reason.

    Its sad we bring up the race card, the “its a dangerous job so its OK to kill”. This is not why we hire these people, “to protect and to serve” is the motto, not “to judge and to kill”. The officer should be locked up and put in jail just like any other murderer. I’m sorry I’m for the police but in this incident it was wrong, so don’t defend the wrong. Beck should be ashamed of himself for lying and covering up murder.

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