Monday, September 06, 2010

For A Mob That's Pretty Quick

Westlake, Los Angeles, CA

Yesterday, LAPD bicycle officers responded to a call in Westlake about a drunk man (supposedly Manuel Jamines from Guatemala) who was threatening people with a knife. According to the LAPD and some witnesses the guy wouldn't put the knife down after repeated orders to do so. They shot him, killing him.

Now, right now in fact, there's a slew of people at the Rampart Division station on Sixth protesting the shooting. Got the cops in riot gear and everything.

People are claiming that they didn't give the man enough time to put the knife down, that he didn't speak English and didn't understand them. That the police shouldn't have opened fire.

The police are claiming it was justified, that they told him to drop the knife in both English and Spanish, that he was threatening a woman with a 4-year-old and that the guy came at them with the knife raised in a threatening manner.

Now, I don't know which side is right. And I'm not going to speculate here.

What I find interesting is that they waited a whole day before protesting. Even for angry, knee-jerk mob responses that's pretty fast. Usually you start with news stories, the community complains, the preachers get into it. And then you get some traction.

Hell, I don't even think Devin Brown got a mob in the first day.

There's a heavy immigrant population in the area, and police have been cracking down on illegal street vendors, a move that the LAPD says is fueling the anger.

Really? You mean they've got no other reason to be pissed off? Freaking out about getting deported, or afraid of police because, well, where they come from they should be afraid of police?

But that's still pretty fast.

If I were into conspiracy theories I'd have to wonder who put it together, whether the fact that it's Labor Day has anything to do with it, and how quickly it's going to turn into a talking point in the immigration debate, either for or against.

But that would NEVER happen. No one would sink so low as to use a tragedy like this to further a political agenda.


Julie said...

I've never been a cop, but Dad was. He worked behind the desk taking dispatch calls in the years before he passed, and he wanted a weapon. Dept. said no. One night some screwhead came in and said that he was going to take out the entire dept, and he was going to start with my dad.

Dad pulled out the .38 he'd bought on his own, pointed it at the loser, and arrested him.

I don't know. There are clear cases where I do know, but because I don't know the look in their eyes and the body language quite often I don't know most of the time.

I wish people would offer the benefit of the doubt, but in these days of Youtube devilry it's hard to.

I hope that cop did right. I really do.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Same here.

But even if the officers did everything by the book and it turns out that that they were completely justified, it won't matter.

The people who are protesting have already made up their minds. Whatever the investigation shows these officers have already been judged.

For myself, unless there's a history of shootings for a particular officer, I don't think I'm qualified to say they were right or wrong.

I wasn't there. I didn't have to make a snap decision.

I didn't have to weigh what they saw, what they thought they saw, a threat to myself, a threat to others, and all of the laws, regulations and moral consequences of that action.

Thank god. I hope I never have to make a decision like that.

Now if it turns out that there's a pattern of shootings, or reports of brutality (Taken with a grain of salt - there are always going to be people who will call harassment regardless) then that's a different matter.

At that point clearly he's doing something wrong, or there's something wrong with him and there needs to be a deeper investigation.

It would be nice, though that hope has pretty much disintegrated, that people would wait a little bit before massing into a mob.

But that's not how we do things.

I would be surprised if everyone who showed up at either the police station or at the site of the shooting was a witness, but I'd love to find out.

I'd also be curious how many of them live in the area, know the victim, are related to the victim and so on.

But I know none of that's going to happen.

Skipper Bartlett said...

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