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LAPD officers who shot immigrant acted 'in immediate defense of life,' Beck says

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck on Tuesday offered a detailed account of a fatal officer-involved shooting near MacArthur Park that has sparked community protests and scattered unrest.

Homicide Report Emphasizing that the department's internal investigation into the shooting had only just begun, Beck said initial accounts from witnesses and the involved officers indicate the officer who fired acted "in immediate defense of life."

Three officers assigned to the Rampart Division's bicycle unit were responding to a different radio call Sunday afternoon when they were flagged down by a pedestrian, who told them a man was threatening passersby with a knife nearby, Beck told the Los Angeles Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD.

The officers rode to the corner of Sixth Street and Union Avenue, observing the man as he continued to threaten people with a knife, Beck said. They confronted him with their weapons drawn, ordering him repeatedly in English and Spanish to drop the knife, according to Beck. The man instead raised the knife over his head and advanced toward the officers, at which point one of the officers fired two rounds.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene. In response to a reporter's question about whether the officers could have used nonlethal weapons to subdue the man, Beck said bicycle officers frequently do not carry with them the selection of beanbag rifles and other weapons found in a traditional patrol car. It was not immediately known whether the officers were equipped with Taser stun guns.

As with all officer-involved shootings and other serious uses of force, investigators from the department's Force Investigation Division will spend the next several months investigating and re-creating the shooting, and compiling their findings into a report.

A review board of command-level officers then advise Beck on whether the officer's tactics, decision to brandish a weapon and decision to use the weapon were appropriate. Beck, in turn, makes his recommendations to the commission, which has the final word on adjudicating incidents. The entire process frequently takes about a year to complete.

Beck said the investigation would be as transparent "as humanly possible." It is difficult, however, for the public to track such inquiries since the investigation and deliberations are confidential.

The commission's inspector general is expected to release a public summary of the commission's findings, but neglected to publish scores of the reports in recent years and is now working to dig out from the large backlog. If officers are determined to have acted outside of department policy, they can face discipline ranging from more training to dismissal.

In reference to the protests and isolated cases of bottle and rock throwing that officers have endured since the shooting, Beck said the protesters represented "a very small" part of the Rampart neighborhood. He called on "everyone in Rampart to act appropriately. This is not a time to tear the community apart." 

Four people were arrested during the demonstrations and three officers were injured.

-- Joel Rubin at LAPD headquarters

Photo: A crowd gathers at a makeshift memorial at West Sixth Street and South Union Avenue, where a 37-year-old Guatemalan day laborer was shot and killed by LAPD officers Sunday. Credit: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (115)

maybe people ought to think twice about brandishing weapons in front of law enforcement as well (drunk or sober). tragic consequences for all. but you couldn't pay me enough $$$ to have a job where my life was threatened on a daily basis. just saying.

Don't worry all the protesters have Caloptima and WIC coupons. They will settle down. The more you give, the more you get...

It's about time the people around that area made a stan against the police department. The LAPD have made many arrests that have violated the constitutional rights of the people in that area just because some don't speak English. Bravo for the Guatemala’s Bravo!

Why did you stop the police to deal with that maniac? Those of you who say you know how the police should have handled the situation why didn't you handle it yourselves instead of involving the police? Don't expect the police, who are human, to be willing to be harmed by your out-of-control monster. Police got a right to protect their own lives while helping you against some nut case. Self preservation is the first law of nature and that includes policemen. People who want things done in what they consider the right way should do it themselves -- unless you are looking for a way to file a lawsuit. You could also consider keeping your mess in you own country and let your homeland police deal with your cultural problems.

This is ridiculous; the police were protecting themselves from a deadly weapon. We shoot white guys in Arkansas for the same thing. "Drop the knife" means the same thing in many languages; it means drop the knife.

Threatening folks and police with a knife, and being drunk, are not the actions of a law abiding individual. Sorry a life was lost, but those are the consequences of illegal behavior with a lethal weapon. Do the police have to wait until they are stabbed before they can defend themselves?

By the way, what was the legal status of this individual as well as the other folks who were protesting last night. Special Order 40 needs to be rescinded. This is the US, not a suburb of Guatemala.

Here's a thought: Don't run at police officers with a knife raised above your head.

70 % of people living in that area are illegals - and 80% of this 70% percent are on welfare -

RAMOART DIVISION?!?!?! That figures! As a former resident of the area patrolled by Rampart Division, I can only say that NOBODY called the police for anything unless we had also asked for the Fire Department too. Rampart Division pigs have always been the enemy...I was told by 2 uniformed officers responding to my call to report a crime that the "only way to clean up the neighborhood was to nuke it." and on another occasion was asked by another uniformed pig "what was a nice white chic doing living in this hood?" I think it's past time for another justice Department investigation & consent degree.

It just goes to show these people are not raised with any type of common sense. If I was a cop this would make me second guess confronting a hostile person within these types of communities.

Did they have to shoot? They could have clubbed him with a boke for crissakes.

it wasn't a knife...it was a MACHETE!

this is what Il-Imm is bringing us. third world violence.

ohhhhh, but they're innocent and just come to work....

A knife against a gun? Seriously? I thought they trained officers to unarm supsects in situations like this. He could have shot him in the leg, pepper sprayed him or tackled him to the ground. Just seems like they were quick to pull the trigger when cooler, calmer, heads should have prevailed.

We were told that illegal aliens are afraid of speaking to police. Apparently they aren't afraid of ATTACKING police.

Stop dignifying this rabble-rousing by calling them "community protests"...the people perpetrating the violence are malcontents, thugs & rioters. Mainstream media loves to assume the cops are always the ones at fault.

The thug they killed was threatening people & threatened them as well...whether or not he had a family or kids does not make the perpetrator ANY less accountable or responsible for his own actions & their CONSEQUENCES.

BOTTOM LINE: Threaten unarmed civilians AND armed law enforcement with a weapon & you WILL pay the PRICE!!

Take a good look at the photos. This is Villaraigosa's vision for LA, little Tijuana's, coming to you soon.

As if any of those yahoos who are upset by this wouldn't have popped one in him too, had he been threatening them with a knife!

Good job LAPD!

Knives are tricky weapons for police. Even if a taser is used the suspect is moving forward and could stab an officer on his/her way down to the pavement. Hopefully the community activists will not call for the end of bike officers. This is highly dangerous patrol duty and is highly effective in crime suppression.

Whatever happened to stun guns the taxpayers pay for? If these cops can't deal with a man with a knife, without resorting to killing the guy, then maybe they should not be cops.

I was at the exact locatoion two weeks ago as I took my 90 year old mother on a memory tour of LA. She grew up at 4th and Irving and 6th ahd Hudson/still very nice areas, but enclosed by some very, very poor areas.From what we saw at 6th and Union...I would feel safer in Mexico. It is a wretched state of affairs, and I bet the police did what they were trained to do in order to protect the rest of the population. There were families out walking with tiny kids/my God, the fool with knife could have hurt many people. How sad to see that the park is nothing more than a dust bowl. LA of old is a bye gone place. The place is a pit! The police did their job.

And just look at the disgusting mess on the street!
Is that Tijuana???

Never did I think I would see the day when CA looked so GHETTO!

to get up and start acting against the bs in this city.

LA. Police Union Blames Agitators, Leftists For Anti-LAPD Protest In Westlake Following Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting There

I bet if this were a white man acting crazy in Beverly Hills the cops would have shot him the leg if they didn't have a taser stun gun. Why couldn't this man have been shot in the leg to stop him?

The enemy within.

An independent review of this deadly shooting is appropriate. The people of the community have a right to a transparent investigation. We can not speak as to whether the shooting is justified or not. We are not experts. There is testimony to be taken and facts to be considered. On the other hand, this community is awakening and is finding a voice. It is not easy for them to forget past police abuses, and we call on Police Chief Beck to hear their voices and not try to minimize the importance of their stand.

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