As Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck defended the fatal shooting of a day laborer and officials called for calm, protesters and officers clashed Tuesday night in Westlake near the site of the incident.
About 300 demonstrators gathered at the LAPD's Rampart Station. Some in the crowd hurled eggs at police cars and others threw objects at the station windows, prompting officers in riot gear to push the throng east on 6th Street. Officers fired non-lethal projectiles at protesters near Union Avenue and 6th, where Manuel Jamines was fatally shot Sunday afternoon by an officer who said Jamines refused commands to drop a switchblade.
About 9:30 p.m., police declared the protest an unlawful assembly and moved in to disperse the crowd as trash cans were set on fire and rocks and bottles were thrown in the direction of officers.
At an evening news conference, Beck said the three bicycle patrol officers who confronted Jamines had about 40 seconds to act and did as good a job as could be done in such a quick-moving, emergency situation.
"There was very, very little opportunity to do much more than what was done," he said.
Beck identified the three officers involved as Frank Hernandez, a 13-year veteran; Steven Rodriguez, a five-year veteran; and Paris Pineda, who also has been on the force for five years
Hernandez fired the shots, Beck said.
Police showed photographs of the bloodied knife — a switchblade that is about 6 inches long when opened — that they say Jamines, 37, was holding at the time of the shooting. Investigators are testing the blood to see whose it is, the LAPD said.
Beck said the area where the incident occurred "is not an easy place to police," in part because of its large immigrant population and widespread illegal vending.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was at the news conference, urged residents not to resort to violence. "We need to calm the waters," he said.
That message failed to resonate with protesters.
Near 6th and Union late Tuesday, police fired at least two volleys of non-lethal projectiles. Demonstrators, including families with children, bolted down the street and into alleyways. Witnesses said a man fell off his bike and struck his head.
Jesus Alejandro Hernandez Carmona, 20, was lying on the ground, bleeding profusely from the left side of his head, near a candle-lit memorial to Jamines. He was surrounded by a crowd that was book-ended by police lined up along 6th at Union on the east and Burlington Avenue on the west.
Los Angeles Fire Department ambulances were at the scene but were not crossing the police line. When asked by a reporter why the man was not receiving medical attention, a police commander said, "Tough."
Carmona was eventually helped to the ambulance by friends and received treatment.
Several people shouted angrily into loudspeakers and a group of young men wove through the crowd on bicycles. A vendor hawked bags of potato chips.
Vitalina Rubio, 52 looked on with disappointment as protesters hurled the eggs.
"You can't fight violence with violence," said Rubio, a Mexican immigrant who has lived in the MacArthur Park area for nine years.