You know how the Los Angeles Police Protective League almost always follows a questionable police incident with a statement asking the community not to rush to judgment before the facts are in? On the Westlake shooting of day laborer Manuel Jamines, the union is leading the rush — away from questions about the officers' conduct. "This was not and should not be a controversial shooting," the league said on its blog after the protests began in the Westlake district, in advance of an LAPD investigation. Which is as it should be: the league is a partisan advocate for its members, police officers. It's not a truth seeker, the voice of law-abiding L.A. or the conscience of law enforcement, though the media and blogs sometimes play the union's positions that way. Anyway, what's known so far with developments reported today:
- The LAPD says Jamines had a knife, was threatening people on the street at 6th and Union Avenue, and brandished the weapon when bike patrol officers from Rampart confronted him.
- Chief Beck says it all went down very fast but he has defended the officers' actions. Mayor Villaraigosa today joined him, in strong terms: "There was a man with a knife. That man with a knife was threatening individuals, innocent people who were on the street there....We’ve got to go through an investigation, but when it’s all said and done, I’ll guarantee you what’s going to come out is that these guys are heroes, and I stand by them.”
- A number of residents of the Westlake area have protested that the shooting was unnecessary, and two people who claim to be witnesses have now said that Jamines was not holding a knife when shot. Three nights of increasingly agitated protests have broken out on 6th Street and in front of the Rampart station.
- The officer who fired the fatal shots has been identified and the L.A. Times reported that he has been involved in two other shootings in his 13-year career. The union today objected to his record being discussed.
- * Update: There are also questions about the identity of the dead man.