Police shootings need to be prevented

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We need better policies governing the use of lethal force by police.

On the heels of the fatal shooting of Manuel Jamines by members of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), cities around the country should grapple with this issue.

The killing of Jamines on Sept. 5 sparked nights of protest in Los Angeles. Jamines was accused of holding a knife and refusing to drop the weapon, though at least one eyewitness denies he had a knife when he was shot.

Jamines was from Guatemala, and he was killed in a low-income Latino and Filipino neighborhood where tensions with the police have been high. It is one of the most neglected and impoverished in the city.

Let us not forget that it is taxpayer money that pays the LAPD “To Protect and to Serve.” We must remind law enforcement to provide suitable services to create safety and trust, not just in affluent areas, but also in poor areas.

Photo by CarbonNYC via Flickr

While the officer who shot Jamines was himself Latino, LAPD command staff totals 117 members and only an estimated 14 members are Latino. This is not congruent with the demographics of Los Angeles, which is almost half Hispanic.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck have an obligation to establish an independent, in-depth investigation to bring answers to the community.

But this issue is much bigger than the LAPD.

Police officers in departments around the country have used lethal force in questionable circumstances.

Here are three of the most notorious in the last couple of decades.

On Jan. 1, 2009, a white transit officer in Oakland, Calif., shot and killed Oscar Grant, a black man, while he was being subdued on the ground.

Back in 1991, a Salvadoran immigrant was shot by a black police officer and rioting occurred for two days in the Mt. Pleasant area in Washington, D.C. Lack of bilingual police officers and cultural insensitivity had built up into distrust and antagonism between the community and the police department.

Of course, we cannot forget the savage beating of Rodney King by four white police officers. These officers were acquitted on April 29, 1992, and the community was so outraged that rioting lasted for three days resulting in many deaths and more than $1 billion in property damages.

City councils and police oversight commissions must devise clearer and more stringent policies for the use of lethal force.

Let’s just hope and pray that these types of shootings can be prevented in the future through the implementation of better tactics to subdue or disarm individuals who pose a clear and present danger to civilians and police officers.

Otherwise, the distrust and disrespect towards police officers will only continue to rise in poor communities.

That’s the last thing we need.

***

Randy Jurado Ertll is author of the book “Hope in Times of Darkness: A Salvadoran American Experience” (www.randyjuradoertll.com). He can be reached at [email protected]

8 Comments

  1. Thank you to Bruce Williams for his thoughtful and lucid comments.

    The point is to continue to improve communication, to establish trust and respect. Trust and respect is a two way street.

    More work clearly needs to be done and I applaud Bruce Williams comments.

  2. I worked with mentally ill on Skid Row with the LAPD for several years. I was personally involved in situations where known deranged people waved knives, bottles, golf clubs, etc. LAPD handles hundreds of violent and potentially violent situations every day. They handled them as the regular part of police work they are. They handle them with professionalism and extraordinary skill. I have seen a 110 lb policewoman simply talk a 250 lb knife wielding man into getting into the car and think nothing of it because that is what she does, it is her job.

    Many LAPD officers spend their whole career and never take their weapon out of it’s holster. This incident was the exception, by far the exception. There was nothing inevitable about the man being shot. It is the worst possible outcome, except for an officer dieing.

    In the VERY rare situation an officer causes a death, it should be closely examined. I am sure the officer involved is second guessing himself as to what he could have done differently, as is every other officer looking at what happened. There seems to have been less than the normal amount of skill used. But we just don’t know, do we? So we need to remember how well the LAPD performs in these type situations every day and we never hear about them.

  3. Readers must avoid personal attacks and libelous or inappropriate remarks, and users who violate respectful commenting policies should be banned from the site. Also, those promoting hate and violence need to investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Proper procedures should be taken by Hispanic L.A.

    Hate speech must not be tolerated.

  4. I felt compel to respond to the person who hides behind the moniker of “Chupacabra.” What an idiotic fake screen name. I do not believe that you were present to be making stupid comments.

    • If you make fun of someone’s moniker, come up with something better that “Responding” or “Coward”. Neither are creative and just prove your ignorance and simplicity. If you have a problem with the police, buy a bag of fruit and walk down 6th street after dark. You wouldn’t make it past Alvarado. The animals would chase you back to Rampart Station. The police would take you in, brush you off and defend your life. You wouldn’t even say thank you. Thats because you are part of the problem. You don’t undertsand that they protect the sheep from the wolves. You….are a sheep.

  5. The title of your article has to do with police shootings. Rodney King wasn’t shot. Jamines got himself shot. If he would have dropped the knife (which was recovered and matched the description of the witnesses) he would be alive and back out drinking coronas on Rampart’s lawn. If you’re gonna report the story, get the facts. People see the spin you put on it and you lose credibility.

    • This another misleading, ignorant article. The shooting was the suspects fault, and he did have a knife. The end. ONE person (with her own self-serving motives) said that she didn’t see the knife (as she stood across the street at a busy intersection). That doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. This was a drunk individual who was armed and violent (notice I didn’t describe his ethnicity or legality status). He paid the price for his own actions. This is what you should be preaching, PERSONAL RESPONSIBILTY! If you think this is law enforcement’s fault you need to snap out of your denial. As to your ridiculous claims about the demographics of the police force vs. the city population. The MAJORITY of the officers that work in the Rampart area (officers, supervisors, and above) are Hispanic. This article is false and shameful.

  6. what we need is legal and illegal immigrants to act accordingly, and this would have never happened. plain and simple. si se puede? yeah right. put your money where your mouth is. or should i say ‘mouths are’

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