By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Two day laborers near the Home Depot, a block from the shooting, say Ramirez was a good, quiet man who specialized in construction and patiently waited along with the others seeking work.
A 15-year-old student says she often saw him on Union Avenue near where he lived, at the Waldorf Apartments. "He was just a nice, quiet guy," says Jocelyn Carbajal.
To counter the persisting public outrage, some of which authorities say is being fueled by people from outside the area, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has launched an intense outreach effort, holding a public meeting at a local school, where he promised a fair, transparent investigation.
Lieutenant Wes Buhrmester, watch commander at the area's Rampart Division, says he did not think Beck and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa were overreacting or coddling the community, as critics have suggested.
Four days after the shooting, the mayor referred to the officers as "heroes" who "acted bravely."
Buhrmester, a 30-year veteran, notes, "It used to be the LAPD says it's this way and that's the way it was, take it or leave it. Now there is much more community outreach. We incorporate more people in the discussion. It's not just the police — and that's a good thing."
He says the officers "are of a different mind-set as well. They have a greater grasp on community outreach than we did 30 years ago."
Despite the intense media coverage and official scrutiny of the killing, Buhrmester says police morale hasn't been affected. He compared the several people fighting in the streets last week to those who disrupted the Lakers' victory parade in 2009.
"Those weren't Lakers fans, and these people were not friends of this fellow. They didn't even know him. They had no interest in his fate. It was just an excuse to be vandals and hoodlums. The vast majority of the community supports us here at Rampart."
Once among the city's most notorious and crime-ridden divisions, Rampart has settled down somewhat over the last several years.
The densely populated neighborhoods, home to tens of thousands of Central American immigrants, still have a fairly high crime rate — with 12 homicides and 876 violent crimes committed so far this year, according to LAPD statistics.
Still, the area is not in the battered league with South Los Angeles. The 77th Street Division in South Central has recorded 28 homicides and 1,865 violent crimes this year.
The field sergeant, who did not want his name used, says it was good that Beck has tried hard to educate the community about police procedures and policies.
"This is the way the department is nowadays, and it is good. Some people are going to agree and some people are going to disagree."
As for the fury among some over this shooting, he says, "Sometimes there is a huge response, sometimes hardly any. You just never can tell with a police shooting."
Almost surely, Manuel Ramirez would have been flabbergasted about the reaction to his own death.