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LAPD officer who fatally shot day laborer was accused of using improper deadly force in 2008 shooting

The Los Angeles police officer who fatally shot a day laborer in Westlake was previously accused in a civil lawsuit of improperly using deadly force when he shot and wounded a 19-year-old in the leg in 2008, The Times has learned.

Officer Frank Hernandez shot Joseph Wolf on the morning of Dec. 12, 2008, according to a civil rights and negligence lawsuit filed in March of this year by Wolf’s attorneys.

The lawsuit said Wolf was shot outside his home after he heard the sound of a helicopter circling above his home and went outside to see what was going on.

An LAPD account released at the time stated that Hernandez and a partner were helping to search for assault suspects in the LAPD's Rampart Division when they approached a man they suspected of being involved in the assault.

The man tried to flee, then pointed a gun at the officers, prompting Hernandez to shoot the man once and wound him, according to the account. Wolf was not the suspect the officers were looking for, according to the LAPD statement.


Wolf, according to the civil lawsuit, was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon and exhibiting a firearm in the presence of an officer. The lawsuit called the charges “baseless” and alleged they were falsely brought to “cover up the unlawful use of deadly force.”

It did not say whether he was armed with a gun.

The Los Angeles district attorney’s office dismissed the charges in July 2009, according to the lawsuit. Wolf had no criminal history, attorneys wrote.

“In order to cover up the unreasonable use of force that is a bad shooting, allegations were fabricated that Plaintiff was carrying a weapon and pointed it at Officer Hernandez,” Wolf’s attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which was initially filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, has since been moved to federal court, where it is pending.

A Los Angeles city attorney's spokesman declined to comment because the case is pending.

Hernandez, a 13-year department veteran, shot and killed Manuel Jamines, 37, who police said was wielding a knife and threatening people Sunday in the crowded Westlake shopping district.

Hernandez fired two shots when Jamines came at him with the knife raised over his head, officials have said.

Jamines' death sparked protests and violent skirmishes between demonstrators and police for three nights in the area near 6th Street and Union Avenue. Dozens of protesters were  arrested.

-- Victoria Kim

Photo: A burned sign on 6th Street provides a silent reminder of protests after the fatal police shooting of a day laborer in Westlake.

Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (55)

Maybe the lesson in the WOLF case is don't run from the cops with a gun in your hand.

Wolf is another losers-God this city is infested with reprobates

"The Times has learned . . ."

I am not surprised one bit, this officer needs to get off the streets.

What was Wolf doing going outside to see what was going on when a police helicopter is flying over head with a gun in his hand? (A police helicopter has a very distinct sound, it differs greatly from a news chopper.) Then he points it a police officer? Sounds like the elevator doesn't go all the way to the top on this guy. Now he wants to make some money off it and sue the officer claiming the use of deadly force was not justified. A police officer only has one or two seconds to determine what to do. If a guy is running away and has a gun, the officer thinks he is going to use it. It doesn't matter if Wolf was the suspect or not. He should not have been carrying a gun nor running from the police.

NO,this officer needs to STAY on the streets,he is a good officer who was simply involved in 3 shooting which were necessary.Just do what a cops tells you to do and you will be okay.....don't try to be a Mr. "tough dude"

In THIS case, there were a large number of witnesses who DID see the drunken scum-bag threatening with the knife. Getting charged with a serrated hunting knife DOES warrant the use of deadly force. Case closed. Like it or not this WAS a good shooting. The ill-tempered welfare cases in the Westlake area will just have to find some other reason to wreck the neighborhood and curse the police department charged with protecting them.

Where are all the anti-immigrant postings?

I've been wondering why this cop didn't shoot
the suspect in the legs. Obviously he had to
act quickly, but that's what he's trained for.

And he's already had practice shooting people.
I wonder who is next?

@jay, the D.A dropped the charges because Wolf had the right to carry a firearm in his own property, in this case he did not, but was within his rights, and Hernandez shot him without any provocation, hence the charges being dropped, if he really had a gun, any other officer would have emptied his entire magazine. However, Hernandez shot the first person he saw, therefore he is being sued for his negligence.

why the officer didn't use his taser gun? yes it could create another issue.

hmmmm, no chargers filed against Wolf. Now is the time to question Officer Frank Hernandez credibility. Regardless, how my officers witness the shooting the brotherhood of cops makes all their reports concerning this incident questionable.

Good Job Hernandez! Keeping the streets safe...you need to work in Orange County where Officers like you are needed to keep the scum from entering!

Wow, now it is all coming together. Since Officer Hernandez knew he had one case pending in Federal court and a "suspect" who survived his bullets he knew that if he wounded the Guatemalan guy would be even worse. I now really think that Hernandez thought it was best to kill this guy rather than just wound him, because if he survived, he would also be sued. I hope justice is serve.

Did the guy have a gun outside his home or not? How about we ask him? I always go outside with a gun when I hear the police copter...NOT.

try living in the pico-union area holmes

how come "knife-wielding maniac" is translated "day laborer" by the Times?

So he shot another armed man. Anybody can sue the police for anything. Isn't Hernandez presumed to be innocent until proven otherwise? He works in a busy police division with thousands of thugs roaming the streets, and you're painting him as a rogue officer just because he's been in a couple of shootings. In a sane city with a set of common values and ethics he would be considered a courageous hero.

Why is Victoria Kim of the Times, who is apparently unsupervised by a competent editor, writing these stories rife with speculation and snippets of information? Let's let the Police Commission, the prosecutors, and the courts sort this out through facts, not assumptions.

The 2008 incident involved WOUNDING, not killing -- it therefore was not "deadly" force.

A handgun can be used as a club -- nonlethally, or it can be used to shoot a violent suspect in the leg, again nonlethally. It can be used not as a weapon at all but as a warning, by shooting into the air. Or, it can be used as a lethal weapon to shoot someone in the heart or brain.

If a baseball bat can be categorized as a lethal weapon, when it clearly is not designed as even as a weapon of any kind, then a gun, which is designed as a weapon, can be categorized as a nonlethal weapon.

Police administrators, news reporters, legislators, and judges are simply confused by terminology and buzz words, such as "deadly" or "lethal" and are not using their heads!

This probably has caused the deaths of hundreds of Californians -- because of training police NOT to use their heads: To shoot for the legs or other nonvital parts when they are "threatened" by something as ineffective as a club or knife (when compared with a gun).

Let's try to wake up those who train our police officers. Get them thinking, so they will train officers to use their guns nonlethally when circumstances permit it.

So he has a civil suit filed, who cares, just another plaintiff trying to settle with City so they can boost their welfare checks. I suggest you let the Police Board and the Department finish their investigation before jumping at conclusions. There will obviously be a civil case and the City will settle as they always do. The drunk should not have taken a knife to a gun fight, one who does usually looses.

So if any police officer ever uses his gun while carrying out his duties,it might come back to haunt him later when using it again as he will might be charged as using unneccessary force. These policemen already risk their lives daily to help keep us safe, yet all the California Libtards want to villify this officer because he shot an intoxicated illegal that had a knife & wouldn't surrender. I guarantee it was warranted & justified to shoot this drunk but this officer will now face all the wrath of every illegal & pro-latin group until he leaves the LAPD. Your sorry city invites this element by being a sanctuary city and innocent American citizens will pay with their wallets & with their lives and your city goes bankrupt.

Didn't we just have this same kind of conduct "taken care of" back in the 90's? What happened there, same thing is going on today, bad shoot, plant gun, put the guy in jail after shooting him, get paid vacation. So, tasers are only for old lady's, and old men with pace makers, and guns are for knife wielding crazed day laborers? In the 90's the LAPD would carry hot guns and little bags of dope, and regularly set up innocent people. Like the Mafia with badges.

And Jay, you don't remember the 90's do you? You don't have to have a gun to have a gun in LA, they're doing it again. Look up Rampart Scandal in LA.

"Shoot him in the leg?" Are you guys serious? Someone is charging you, less than 20 feet away, with a knife, and you think it is a good idea to try to take careful aim at their leg? There is not a police academy, department, or agency in the country that teaches this as a good idea.

What if he missed a small moving very difficult to hit target, or suppose adrenaline carries the knife-wielder forward to plunge his blade into the cop's heart?

"Good job for trying to do the right thing by aiming for the leg! Too bad about your death. Oh well, what is on TV tonight?"

Editor: Look at your ad at top of this page about "Hispanic Movement"

Beyond the BoArders???

Who proofreads your stuff?

SB 1070 would have fixed this problem!

We need SB 1070.

There is obviously a problem with officer training and procedure when this is the 3rd shooting this officer is involved with. I am disappointed to see all of the nasty posts below. Officials abusing their power--whether it is trigger happy police officers (a minority of the cops I hope), greedy city officials, or corrupt members of Congress--we have all seen this abuse before. Don't turn your back to that abuse just because it happens to a group that disgusts you. With that attitude it is only matter of time before that abuse is turned on you.

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