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Witness Says Victim Of Westlake Police Shooting Was Unarmed, Mayor Stands Behind LAPD

Helen Tobin |
September 9, 2010 | 6:52 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

A memorial for Manuel Jamines (Photo by Mary Slosson)
A memorial for Manuel Jamines (Photo by Mary Slosson)
Manuel Jamines had nothing in his hands when he was fatally shot by police, a woman who says she witnessed the event told reporters Thursday.

Ana, who declined to give her name, is the second person to claim they did not see a weapon in Jamines' hand when he was shot on Sunday. Police say that Jamines was holding a switchblade.

At a community meeting Wednesday, one person charged that the LAPD had 15 witness statements from the shooting, and asked Police Chief Charlie Beck to release them all to the public.

A spokesperson for the LAPD said Thursday that she could not confirm how many witness statements the LAPD has, but said they would not be released.

Beck did read one statement at the community meeting, however. The statement was from a woman who said Jamines tried to stab her and who said the officers were "her angels sent from heaven."

The different accounts of the incident have caused controversy and led to a number of protests in the Westlake area, where Jamines was killed. Beck, the Los Angeles Police Protective League and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have all defended the actions of Frank Hernandez, the officer who shot Jamines.

Sunday afternoon was not the first time Hernandez was involved in a shooting while on duty. In two previous instances, Hernandez shot and wounded people while on the job, according to LAPD officials and records.

Although Beck declined to discuss Hernandez’s past shootings, citing privacy laws, he did voice support for the officer and indicate that multiple shootings does not warrant suspicion about his performance.

"If we had any concerns about his ability to use deadly force, he wouldn't be out in the field," Beck said. "Each of these [shootings] need to be looked at in their individual contexts."

Hernandez first fired a handgun in 1999, during a response to a robbery call. Hernandez and his partner tracked a female into the backyard of a home and opened fire when the women allegedly pointed a handgun at them, according to an account released by the department. A loaded semiautomatic weapon was recovered at the scene, and at the time of the account’s release, the woman was listed in stable condition.

In a second incident, in December 2008, Hernandez and a different partner were searching for assault suspects in LAPD’s Rampart Division. When they approached an 18-year-old man they suspected of being involved in the assault, the man tried to flee and then pointed a gun at the officers. Hernandez shot the man once and wounded him, according to the LAPD’s account of the incident.

In the previous shootings, LAPD officials and the agency’s oversight board found that Hernandez acted within the department’s policies on using deadly force, according to an LAPD spokesperson.

Hernandez currently remains ineligible for patrol assignments per LAPD policy. An officer involved in a shooting is kept off the streets until the chief has received a formal briefing on the incident and a department psychologist has cleared the officer to return to full duty. The full incident investigation could take up to two months, according to a department spokesperson, and no official report will be released to the public following the investigation.


Reach reporter Helen Tobin here.

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