LOS ANGELES (AP) — Demonstrators are dispersing after a peaceful rally that began near the spot where a Los Angeles Police officer shot a Guatemalan immigrant who was carrying a knife.
Immigrant’s Rights Activist Demands More Civilian Participation In Oversight Of LAPD, KNX 1070’s Bill Cooper reports.
Authorities say there were no arrests and no confrontations during the march Saturday that drew about 250 people to the Rampart area west of downtown. Many carried flags from Central American countries and placards decrying the Sept. 5 shooting death of Manuel Jaminez.
Most of the protestors marched past the Rampart police station before winding their way to MacArthur Park. A smaller group took their demonstration to LAPD headquarters downtown.
Jaminez, 37, was shot in the head after a brief confrontation with three bicycle-riding officers on a street corner. Police said Jaminez was drunk and had attempted to stab passers-by, including a pregnant woman, and ignored commands to drop a knife.
Some residents said the fatal shooting seemed a disproportionate use of force and officers should have been able to disarm Jaminez without killing him.
His death sparked several nights of vigils and protests that at times turned violent. Police officials were taken aback that the shooting, which appeared to them to be easily justifiable, could cause so much anger and they blamed outside activists for stirring up resentment.
The surrounding Westlake neighborhood has become a densely packed enclave of Central American immigrants fleeing brutal civil wars and grinding poverty in their home countries.
On one of the nights following Jaminez’s death, protesters gathered outside the police station and pelted officers with eggs, rocks and bottles and set a trash bin on fire. Police made 22 arrests.
Several investigations are ongoing into the shooting and one eyewitness has come forward and disputed the police version of events, saying Jaminez had nothing in his hands when Officer Frank Hernandez shot him.
Activists behind Saturday’s rally want Hernandez to be the subject of a criminal investigation by the district attorney.
The LAPD’s officer union has condemned the activists as “agitators who masquerade around as concerned citizens” and said it is confident all reviews will find Hernandez acted appropriately.
The shooting sparked the first major crisis for Chief Charlie Beck, who succeeded William Bratton in November.
Beck held a community meeting two days after the shooting and was jeered and booed by attendees.
(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)