Los Angeles activists protest police shooting - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Los Angeles activists protest police shooting

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A man carrying a fake coffin is among demonstrators protesting several incidents of alleged Los Angeles Police Department brutality, including the fatal shooting of Manuel Jamines a month ago. A man carrying a fake coffin is among demonstrators protesting several incidents of alleged Los Angeles Police Department brutality, including the fatal shooting of Manuel Jamines a month ago.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A small crowd of demonstrators gathered Saturday to protest the fatal police shooting of a Guatemalan immigrant in an event that drew neither the numbers hoped for by organizers nor the violence seen at earlier rallies.

About 200 people met at the corner were Manuel Jaminez was killed Sept. 5 after three-bicycle riding police officers said they saw him lurching toward them with a knife in his hand.

With bearers waving flags from several Central American nations, drum groups, horn blowers and sound systems including one mounted on a truck, the rally was noisy despite its sparse attendance. Organizers had estimated as many as 3,000 people would come.

Many attendees came from outside activist organizations, including radical political groups such as the Revolutionary Communist Party. Police Chief Charlie Beck has previously blamed such groups for stirring resentment in the community and politicizing a shooting which, in the eyes of police officers, seemed easily justifiable.

Protests in the days immediately following the shooting saw multiple arrests and demonstrators throwing eggs, rocks and bottles at police.

"People are scared," said Ron Gochez, one of the event's organizers, when discussing the attendance. He said many of the illegal immigrants living in the neighborhood were afraid of arrest.

Early in the day, a smaller group of about 50 people led by a different organization split from the main rally and headed to the police headquarters downtown. There were no arrests at either event.

The main march wound its way toward the Rampart police station, two blocks from the site Jaminez was killed. Demonstrators stopped for about 20 minutes and yelled "killers" and "justice" at the brick-and-glass fronted building.

Jaminez, 37, was shot in the head after a brief confrontation with police on a street corner in a largely Latino shopping area just west of downtown. Officers said Jaminez was drunk and had attempted to stab passers-by, including a pregnant woman, and ignored commands to drop a knife.

Some at the rally said the fatal shooting seemed a disproportionate use of force and officers should have been able to disarm Jaminez without killing him.

"I don't believe it was in any way justified the way they handled the situation," said Max Reyes, a University of California, Los Angeles, philosophy junior who came to the rally. "We are not going to allow the police to commit such acts without repercussions."

Other residents said they didn't believe the police version of events. One eyewitness has said publicly she did not see a weapon in Jaminez's hand.

Celina Benitez, a coordinator with the Committee In Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, said five other people who saw the shooting made similar claims about Jaminez being unarmed, though none has spoken publicly.

Although Frank Hernandez, the officer who shot Jaminez, is Latino, several demonstrators claimed the shooting was racially motivated.

The officer union for the Los Angeles Police Department has dismissed such claims and condemned the activists at protests as "agitators who masquerade around as concerned citizens."

Several reviews are ongoing into whether the shooting was justified.

The main march concluded at MacArthur Park, the site of a now infamous police response to a 2007 immigration rally where officers used batons to hit demonstrators and fired rubber bullets into the crowd, injuring dozens of people.

Saturday's march dispersed without incident.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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