Last week, the jury in a federal civil rights case came to a swift and correct decision on who was responsible for the death of Manuel Jamines; it was 37-year-old Manuel Jamines.
On September 5, 2010, LAPD officers responded to a call of an intoxicated man who was threatening people with a knife. Officers gave orders to the man, Mr. Jamines, in both Spanish and English to drop the knife – he refused and was shot. Chief Charlie Beck said that the officers had only about 40 seconds to take decisive action in the quick-moving emergency situation. This case was textbook police work by the three officers who share 20 years of experience on the force.
In the days following the shooting, agitators in the community attempted to gin up outrage against the police, both by questioning the use of force and falsely claiming the knife-wielding Jamines was unarmed when he attempted to attack police. After all witnesses were heard from and evidence considered, the jury took just four hours to reach a verdict that confirmed the officers acted lawfully and with full justification by shooting Jamines to end the danger he posed to officers and civilians.
In March of 2011, the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruled that the shooting was within Department policy.
As we have said repeatedly, when individuals threaten police officers with a deadly weapon, they alone are responsible for the consequences of their actions. If you don’t want to get shot by a police officer, don’t try to stab one, or anyone else around, with a knife.
If an intoxicated man is reckless enough to threaten innocent people with a knife, causing one resident to flag down passing officers for help, it should come as no surprise that he may do something as irrational as turn on the uniformed police officers with that knife in an attempt to kill them. The jury came to the sensible conclusion that any person, whether or not they speak English, or who has had too much to drink, should have understood that threatening officers with a knife will result in a swift and appropriate response by police, including the use of deadly force.
This was not and should not be a controversial shooting. Certainly this was a tragic incident and undoubtedly uncomfortable for people in the area to witness, but police work isn’t pretty. Police officers don’t get paid to get stabbed, nor do we possess magical powers or weapons that allow the seamless disarming of armed and dangerous individuals. When an individual, armed with a deadly weapon, makes a decision (however poor that decision is) to advance on police officers or threaten a member of the public, then that individual is solely responsible for whatever the consequences may be.
We applaud the City for refusing to pay off the plaintiffs any sum of money in this case as a “cost of doing business.” We commend Chief Beck and the Commission for looking at the facts in this incident and standing behind the officers who protected the community from an intoxicated, knife-wielding man. We sincerely thank Deputy City Attorney Denise Mills and all who supported her in the City Attorney’s Office, for their commitment and diligence in defending the officers and the City.
We recognize the economic strategy in settling nuisance claims, but we applaud the city attorney’s decision to choose truth over cost savings and ultimately establishing the truth of what happened in this case. The value of that decision to the City, the Department, the involved officers and the community cannot be overstated.
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