A second night of unrest erupted Tuesday in a small section of the Westlake district as residents angry over a fatal officer-involved shooting over the weekend took to the streets, lit fires, and tossed debris at officers from turn-of-the-century walk-up apartments in the immigrant neighborhood.
By 11 p.m. police in riot gear had quelled the unrest and most of the troublemakers had scattered. Los Angeles police spokeswoman Officer Karen Rayner said 22 people had been arrested on suspicion of failing to disperse and unlawfully assembling during the protests at West Sixth Street and South Union Avenue.
Officers shot rubber bullets and non-lethal bean bags at rioters and even aimed their less-than-lethal rounds at those throwing items from upper-level apartments, according to television news reports. Police declared an unlawful assembly about 9:30 p.m. as demonstrators shut down traffic along Sixth Street for the second night in a row.
While Monday's crowd was estimated at 100, Tuesday's was said to be closer to 300. No officer or civilian injuries were reported, but a Univision reporter was hit in the neck with something shot at him from a slingshot, according to police and TV reports.
The second night of demonstrations started as enraged community members gathered outside the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division building two blocks away to decry the fatal shooting Sunday afternoon of Manuel Jamines, a 37-year-old Guatemalan construction worker who police said was drunk when he threatened citizens and police with a knife. A police sign was torn down and objects were thrown at the station's windows.
The unrest happened after LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at his side, held a news conference to assure the community that the shooting would be investigated to the fullest.
But Beck also defended the shooter's decision, saying the confrontation unraveled in a quick 40 seconds. The suspect's knife — a bloodied, stainless steel weapon — was displayed at the conference.
“We will try to make the community feel comfortable in the transparency of this investigation,'' Beck said.
Although some in the community — the union representing Los Angeles police has described some of the protesters as leftist agitators — claimed that the man did not speak English and thus did not understand officers' orders to drop his knife, Beck told the Police Commission Tuesday that the officers had in fact spoken to the man in English and Spanish.
“He was ordered several times in English and Spanish to drop the knife, and failed to comply,'' Beck said. “The suspect then raised the knife over his head and advanced on officers, at which time an officer-involved shooting occurred.”
The officers involved in the confrontation were identified as Frank Hernandez, a 13-year LAPD veteran, and five-year veterans Steven Rodriguez and Paris Pineda. The shooter was not identified, however.
A community meeting to discuss the shooting was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at nearby John Leichty Middle School, 650 South Union Ave. Chief Beck, Councilman Ed Reyes, Police Commission inspector general Nicole Bershon and the top Guatemalan, Nicaraguan and Mexican consular officials in L.A. were scheduled to attend.
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