Police Commission says officer who shot Guatemalan day laborer followed protocol

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck sat with the Los Angeles Police Commission as they announced the results of an investigation into the shooting death of Guatemalan day laborer Manuel Jamines. Police Commission President John W. Mack said the three officers acted lawfully when they pulled out their weapons. The investigation also found that Frank Hernandez, the officer who shot and killed Manuel Jamines, followed LAPD protocol when it came to “the categorical use of force.”

Mack read the statement to a packed meeting at the downtown police department. He said the investigation, headed by Inspector General Nicole Bershon, was “comprehensive” and “exhaustive.”

Manuel Jamines, 37, was shot near Sixth Street and Union Avenue in MacArthur Park on September 5th. He was allegedly drunk and waving a knife in the air when three Rampart division police officers on bicycles found him. They issued orders to Jamines in Spanish and English to put the knife down. When Jamines raised the weapon and went toward them, Hernandez fired two rounds.

A day laborer named Tambric (he declined to give his first name) said he roomed with Jamines in an apartment on Wilshire Boulevard and Bonnie Brae Streetfor about four months. Tambric said he is from Nahuala Solola, the same small town in Guatemala where Jamines was from.

“He was a very nice person, but when he was drunk he was a noisy person,” said Tambric, through a translation by Jeronimo Salguero, co-director of the day laborer center CARECEN.

Luis Carrillo, a Pasadena lawyer representing the Jamines family, said he didn’t expect much from the announcement and that he was there “just to hear the script.”


Luis Carrillo, Jamines family lawyer, tells reporters the results of the investigation are just a “script.”

Arcy Carranza, Carrillo’s office administrator, attended the news conference and said she was “very upset and disappointed” with the investigation’s results.

“I wasn’t surprised but upset because I know the family and their feelings,” she said. “I’m frustrated asking, ‘When is this going to end?’”

Some of Jamines’ cousins live in the United States, but could not attend the news conference. Jamines’ wife and three sons still live in Guatemala. Carrillo speaks to the widow through a translator, because the widow only speaks a native dialect. It’s been argued that Jamines didn’t understand the officers’ commands because he too only understood his native language.

The Jamines family is suing Hernandez in federal court, using the official last name Jamines Chun. Carrillo explained that in federal court, he will get what is known as the compel statements from the three officers. Those statements were taken immediately after the shooting and could shed light on what happened. In state court those statements are not released because they are considered “personnel” items. Carrillo doesn’t expect Hernandez will face any jail time, but he is hoping to win a monetary reward to support the family.

After the news conference, Mack said he was confident with the commission’s ruling after verifying the DNA on the knife recovered at the scene matched with Jamines’ DNA. Mack also mentioned that there were several witnesses who verified the officers’ testimonies.

Several witnesses, however, have come forward saying Jamines was not holding a knife in his hand when he was shot.

“I called one [witness] 20 times, and she only answered twice,” said Carrillo. He believes witnesses are scared to come forward and say what they saw. Carrillo is still waiting for the coroner’s report but said the case will ultimately be “a battle between witnesses.”

When asked whether he believed the knife was planted, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know.”

Mack mentioned that the commission is “deeply committed to openness of the investigative process with the community,” but that they couldn’t legally say more because “this is a personnel matter.”

Police were expecting protests in MacArthur Park similar to those that happened in the month after the initial shooting.

The complete investigation will be made public and published on the LAPD’s website no later than March 21, 2011.

Crenshaw parents and residents respond to shooting outside of local school

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After a shooting occurred outside of Crenshaw High School Thursday, parents remained wary when walking their children to class. Two teenagers shot each other near the campus Wednesday afternoon, and one is still in serious condition.

Donna Brown lives about six houses away from where the shooting occurred. The students involved were not from Crenshaw High School, but the occurrence left Brown unsettled.

“Quite frankly, I’m really kind of shocked because I thought all of this stuff was under control,” Brown said.

Police believe the shooting that involved a 17- and 19-year-old was gang related. It occurred around 1:30 p.m., when students were still in class.

Armando Farriez, a police lieutenant, partnered with the Los Angeles Urban League for the “safe passage” program. The program encourages police presence around the high school. But today, Farriez sent even more officers to the school.

“We spoke to a few parents, and they’re always concerned, but they feel a sense of relief when they see us here,” Farriez said.

But even though there were more officers in blue Thursday morning, some parents still believed their children were unsafe. Latoya Winston, a Crenshaw resident who went to the high school as a teenager, does not feel relieved. She walked her freshman daughter to the front gates of the school.

“To me, it’s like they’re just there, to have a look or a presence,” she said of the police. “But to me, it’s not effective because it happened.”

Last year, Crenshaw High School locked students down after rumors spread that a student brought a gun to school. Eddie Jones of the Los Angeles Civil Rights Association said this activity just perpetuates a negative image for the high school.

“Crenshaw High School has been and is still getting a bad rap,” Jones said. “I think the parents are upset. I’m sure no parent wants to go to work sitting at a desk and getting a call saying there was a shooting at their school.”

Despite the communities best efforts to distill that negative image, Brown said that image is a reality.

“This was in broad daylight,” Brown said. “I can’t walk. I can’t go walking when I feel like it. I’m ready to move, but because of the economy, I can’t do that.”

Brown has lived in the same house for 36 years, and she sent her daughter down the street to Crenshaw High School. The other day, she walked to the library, and although she felt bad for saying it, she said she felt safer walking west.

Angelenos discuss today’s LA

Los Angeles is thought to be a city of runaways, immigrants and people chasing down dreams.

“People came to start new histories,” said Hector Tobar, a Los Angeles Times opinion columnist who writes about Latino issues.

But for the first time in the city’s recent history, more and more Angelenos are natives, said Dowell Myers, a professor from the University of Southern California’s School of Policy who studies demographics.

This new population is composed of young hopefuls and children of immigrants, and it’s creating a generational divide. Combine that with a budget crisis, an eroding public school system, lack of public transportation and job losses, and you’ve got a city that has lost its identity.

imageSeven residents of Los Angeles felt the same way and wanted to discuss the city’s new identity. Writers, politicians, professors, historians and lawyers gathered for a panel called “Thinking About Now in Los Angeles” on Thursday evening.

More than 40 people packed the small, niche Leimert Park bookstore, Eso Won Books,for the discussion hosted by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Panelists agreed on one thing: we are witnessing a moment in the history of the Los Angeles narrative. Each speaker shared his or her personal narrative of living or arriving in Los Angeles.

Carol Sobel, a civil rights attorney, passed around a picture of downtown Los Angeles in the early 1970s. The audience was surprised to see open land, smaller freeways, and City Hall as the tallest building. Arriving from New Jersey, she didn’t like the relatively small downtown Los Angeles because it felt like it had no spark.

Arielle Rosen shared a story of growing up in the San Fernando Valley during the 1980s. “I remember at a very young age being afraid,” she said. “I’d lock my doors when I got in the car.” When Rosen moved to Boston for college, friends would ask what she was doing.

“The only thing I was afraid of was the police,” said James Thomas, a pastor in the San Fernando Valley. Thomas arrived in Los Angeles in the 1990s from a small town. He drove around Compton unaware of gang territories and staying out past dark. As a new resident, Compton felt like “culture and progress and it was beautiful, but others felt it was very dark.”

After the panelists shared stories and memories from their own lives, they discussed narratives still being written and affected by the past.

The newest trend for Angelenos, especially the baby boomer generation, is nostalgia. “Just look at California Disney,” says George J. Sanchez, a University of Southern California historian.

Sanchez says baby boomers want to go back to the 1950s, and this causes a generational divide, because the younger generation focuses on the city’s ethnic and cultural differences.

Myers says older Angelenos need to talk about the city’s sometime violent past. “You can’t embrace the new until you mourn the old. We need to go back and talk about it.”

Another issue the generational divide affects is the housing market. Because Angelenos are native and younger, they’re renting apartments, not buying houses. “There’s no magic person with deep pockets that’s going to buy us out,” said Myers.

Myers arrived in the late 1980s and has experienced what he called a housing “rollercoaster.” “I look at the current recession and say oh, I remember this.”

Audience members had a chance to discuss their own opinions. “It’s only a housing crisis when it affects the rich people,” said Gerardo Gomez, a resident of Echo Park.

Sobel agreed. She said the poor have always been pushed out and she predicted further class divide and gentrification in Los Angeles. “When I look at L.A. Live, I think of 5,000 homes gone for poor people. We focus on taller buildings with more glass rather than building homes,” said Sobel.

Aside from generational divides in Los Angeles, panelists discussed educational gaps in public school funding, ethnic divides, the gay, lesbian, and transgenders’ experience in Los Angeles, police relations with the community and problems still affecting South Los Angeles.

The panel discussion ended late, but conversations among audience members continued throughout the evening, expressing the continued belief that Los Angeles is a city of possibilities.