Mayor defends Beck, LAPD in Westlake shooting

September 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
More protests and new developments in the fatal shooting of a man by police in the Westlake District. Thursday, a woman spoke out, saying she witnessed the shooting.The memorial for Manuel Jamines has become a gathering place for community protests, and police are constantly patrolling the area.

"I don't see nothing in his hands. He has nothing," said "Ana," who did not want to be identified. She said she was an eyewitness to the officer-involved shooting on Sunday night.

Ana said she was standing across the street directly in front of the spot where Jamines was shot. She said she saw the officers telling him to drop the weapon.

"He tried to say something to them, the police, but he moves his hands, but he has nothing. I don't see him throw something on the floor like a knife or something. Nothing," said Ana.

Police say there was a knife recovered at the scene. They say Jamines lunged at officers. But Ana, who admits she was about 45 feet away, says Jamines was drunk and it appeared he stumbled toward the officers.

"I didn't see a knife," said Ana.

Businesses have been damaged and streets littered, and many residents are saying that the majority of the protesters are not even from the Westlake District.

Hundreds of people took to the streets on Wednesday night, with protesters throwing rocks and bottles at police. Four people were arrested for assaulting police, and one person who was arrested had used a slingshot at an officer. No injuries have been reported. Police used non-lethal weapons to disperse the crowds.

"I am very very concerned, without a doubt, that we've had elements outside of this community who have come here to provoke the community. You have a group of anarchists who have come here," said state Assemblyman Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles).

At a community meeting Wednesday night, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck was booed and called a murderer.

That angered Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who forcefully defended the chief Thursday.

"I don't know anybody that has more respect for the civil rights and civil liberties of our residents who work in the LAPD, and I take umbrage with anybody that would characterize Chief Beck in that manner," said Villaraigosa.

The LAPD said the officer who shot Jamines is 13-year veteran Frank Hernandez. He was involved in two other shootings, including one on December 12, 2008, when he shot and wounded an 18-year-old man who police say pointed a gun at officers.

The mayor says he is confident the LAPD did nothing wrong.

"I think the facts are going to show a very clear case of our officers conducting themselves appropriately, and I think the facts will show, with great bravery," said Villaraigosa.

The L.A. City Attorney's Office is filing charges against two men that allegedly set fires during Monday night's demonstrations. They face six months in jail and $1,000 fines.

Witnesses to the deadly shooting can contact the Guatemalan Consulate if they don't feel comfortable giving information to police, Beck said at the meeting.

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