It was one of the Los Angeles Police Department's most decried shootings in recent years, and it happened to a man who was drunk, wielding a knife, and allegedly threatening a pregnant woman, bystanders and cops alike.
The official response from both the LAPD and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been, What did you expect the officers to do? Over the weekend a similar confrontation in the same neighborhood ended with a suspect being subdued via “less-than-lethal” bean bag rounds.
That's the kind of response protesters said they wanted for Manuel Jamines, the day laborer from Guatemala was gunned down on the hot afternoon of Sept. 5.
The confrontation with the unidentified woman was reported about 4:40 a.m. Sunday — only blocks away from Jamines' last stand — when a woman was stopped by cops near West Sixth and South Coronado streets, police said.
She was holding a knife and was ordered to drop it, police said. This time cops had less-than-lethal weapons at-the-ready and felled her with bean-bag rounds, Sgt. Melvin Gamble of the Rampart Division said.
“We hit her twice, and still the second one didn't put her down,'' he said, “but she dropped the knife.''
The woman was checked out by paramedics and eventually taken into custody on a mental-health hold, police said.
Ironically (or not) she appeared to be upset about having a child who was molested in a case where the suspect had not been brought to justice, Gamble said.
Jamines' case has exposed a rift between the area's immigrant community and City Hall, which seems to think Jamines was rightfully shot (even though the case is still being investigated).
The union representing Los Angeles police has been quick to defend Officer Frank Hernandez for opening fire as Jamines allegedly raised the apparently bloody knife over his head.
We weren't there, but it's hard to blame police for shooting the guy if he indeed was waiving a knife around while drunk. That would have scared the shit out of us, frankly, and we would have been happy to see the boys and girls in blue.
Firing a bean bag straight to his cajones would have been better — sure. But cops contend that this thing unraveled in seconds, not minutes.
Why are immigrants — often Central Americans — up in arms over this when they're notoriously fearful of police back home? (In fact, one of the reasons for Special Order 40, the LAPD mandate that cops not look for illegal immigrants, is the idea that many newcomers don't trust police and won't cooperate as crime witnesses if they fear deportation).
We don't know. The L.A. police union has suggested a conspiracy of leftist proportions. We're not so sure. We think immigrants are simply pissed over the economy — like the rest of us — tired of sitting on their asses outside Home Depot instead of toiling in gardens and at car washes for that elusive green.
Jamines' shooting, to us, seemed like an excuse to vent for three nights in summer.