UPDATED: LAPD Officers Shoot Two More, Remain Tight-Lipped On Manuel Jamines Investigation
UPDATE 1:04 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 19: LAPD Public Information Director Mary Grady said Tuesday night that the department's Use of Force Review Board convened on Monday.
The board's task is to produce a report about the Manuel Jamines shooting. Police Chief Charlie Beck will have the option to adopt, reject or modify the review board's report.
The department's inspector general's office would then provide the police commission with an analysis of the report. Beck has asked for the process to be accelerated, meaning it's possible that the report on whether or not the shooting of Jamines was justified could be made available to the public in late February.
Grady also said Rampart Division officers have been engaging in productive discussions to strengthen relationships with community leaders in the Westlake area. Attempts to reach the Guatemalan Consulate's office in L.A. by phone this week have been unsuccessful. Neon Tommy will explore the post-shooting environment in the Rampart region in the coming weeks.
The incidents come four-and-a-half months after a trio of LAPD officers killed Manuel Jamines, a Guatemalan immigrant who is said to have raised a knife above his head in the Westlake area in the presence of bystanders before the officers gunned him down. He's also been referred to as Manuel Jaminez, Gregorio Luis Perez and Manuel Ramirez.
The LAPD refuses to offer any comment on the status of its investigation into the officer-involved shooting of Jamines.
“Sorry but at this time we can not comment on this investigation,” public information officer Norma Eisenman wrote in an e-mail.
The killings of both Jamines and former college football player Reggie Doucet Jr. are to be reviewed by the Chief of Police, the LAPD's inspector general, the Board of Police Commissioners and the L.A. County District Attorney's Justice System Integrity Division.
Angered by what they perceived as an excessive use of force against an innocent man of color, dozens were drawn out by the Westlake shooting to participate in a week of fiery demonstrations, violent protests and peaceful marches in early September.
Hundreds called for transparency in the investigation, but it appears LAPD has yet to offer any.
Juan Jose Gutierrez of ANSWER L.A., a civil rights group that staged a rally in Jamines' honor, said the police department continues to say the investigation is on-going while offering no clues as to when preliminary findings or a final report may be released.
It still remains to be seen whether the shooting of Jamines was justified. The officers who shot him were on bicycles and did not have access to non-lethal weapons such as mace or tasers. For now, LAPD is saying the shooting of Doucet was justified because he tried to grab the gun of an officer.
The problems with officers turning to their guns more often recently hasn't been confined to L.A., according to a lengthy but fact-driven analysis on a socialist group's website.
"Los Angeles is the most recent site of a multi-city policing crisis affecting the entire West Coast," Kristian Williams writes, citing the cases of Jamines, Oscar Grant in the Bay Area, Aaron Campbell in Portland and John T. Williams in Seattle. "What clearly sets a number of recent cases apart is not the fact of police violence, but the fact that that violence is being challenged. The controversy, in other words, is not only about violence, but about authority. It is a crisis of legitimacy...
"The present crisis — stretching from L.A. to almost the Canadian border — is evidence that the police have lost credibility, first in the eyes of the public, and then in the eyes of the elites. As a result, the presumption of legitimacy is shifting, and the special protections the police enjoy are weakening."
In Miami, the city's top cop had to explain earlier this month to the City Council why his officers shot six people in six months--an abnormally high number for the area. Criticized for his department's slow review of the shootings, he was forced to turnover the investigations of four of the six cases to the state attorney general's office.
In Seattle, a decision from a special jury panel is expected as early as Tuesday on whether police were justified in shooting to death John T. Williams on Aug. 30, 2010. If the jury finds the shooting was not justified, the district attorney could press charges against the officers.