LOS ANGELES — Demonstrators pelted police for a second night in a poor immigrant neighborhood following the fatal shooting of a Guatemalan day laborer who allegedly threatened people with a knife and then turned the weapon on a responding officer.
Officers fired at least two rounds of foam projectiles at demonstrators Tuesday night and 22 people were arrested, mainly for failure to disperse and unlawful assembly, Officer Karen Rayner said.
The disturbance erupted despite police Chief Charlie Beck’s pledge to conduct a full investigation into the Sunday afternoon shooting of Manuel Jamines, 37, in the Westlake district near MacArthur Park, a neighborhood packed with recent immigrants from Central America.
An estimated 300 protesters who gathered outside the local police station hurled eggs, rocks and bottles and set a trash bin on fire. Others dropped household items from apartment buildings.
“People were throwing televisions, air conditioning units, miscellaneous furniture and other objects from the windows,” Lt. Cory Palka said.
At least one officer and a Univision reporter were slightly injured by thrown or slingshot-propelled objects, police told City News Service. A man who fell off his bicycle suffered a head injury.
In Monday night’s violence, three officers were slightly injured by thrown objects and four people were arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor inciting a riot, Officer Bruce Borihanh said. Police said most of Monday’s trouble involved a group handing out revolutionary fliers.
In the wake of the protests, authorities scheduled a community meeting for Wednesday evening at a school.
Beck said the Jamines shooting occurred after someone flagged down three bicycle officers to tell them a man was threatening people with a knife.
The officers approached the suspect and told him in Spanish and English to put down the weapon. Instead, Jamines raised the knife above his head and lunged at Officer Frank Hernandez, a 13-year veteran of the department, Beck said.
Eyewitness accounts from six civilians, nine police personnel and two fire department staff indicate Hernandez fired twice “in immediate defense of life,” Beck said. Jamines died at the scene.
Investigators recovered a bloody, 6-inch knife at the scene but didn’t know where the blood came from.
“This was a very brief moment in time, just 40 seconds between first contact and the time of the shooting,” Beck said.
Beck said the timeline was based on preliminary interviews. He said the department’s Force Investigation Division will conduct a thorough, transparent probe.
The three officers involved in the shooting have been temporarily reassigned.
Jamines had a wife and three children — ages 13, 6 and 8 — in his hometown of Mazatenango, Guatemala, according to his cousin Juan Jaminez, 38. He came to the United States six years ago to find work and spent most of his time looking for jobs in a Home Depot parking lot near his home.
Jamines was drunk but not dangerous, his cousin and neighbors said.
“Killing a drunk isn’t right,” said Juan Jaminez, also a day laborer. He and others described Jamines as a friendly, hardworking man who liked to drink on the weekends but wasn’t violent.
“The officer who did this should be subject to discipline and a thorough investigation,” said Juan Flores, 39, a restaurant cook who knew Jamines.
Flores said the officers should have used a non-lethal weapon.
Beck said the officer involved in the shooting didn’t have a baton or stun gun. He said bicycle officers frequently do not carry the selection of non-lethal weapons found in patrol cars.
Juana Neri, 57, a Mexican immigrant housewife who lives nearby, pushed her grocery bag in a baby stroller past the corner where Jamines was killed.
“It’s bad, what the police did, but what’s worse is the silly stuff that people were doing here,” she said, referring to Monday’s violence. “We are not in our country, and with the problems that Hispanic immigrants have these days, it’s better not to cause problems.”
MacArthur Park was the site of a May 1, 2007, clash in which police pummeled immigration rights marchers and reporters with batons and shot rubber bullets into the crowd. Police cited significant command failures in the response to a confrontation with a group of “agitators” that triggered the sweep through the park, and a deputy chief at the scene quickly resigned after being demoted.