An officer from the Los Angeles Police Department was involved in a fatal shooting on Sunday, September 5, 2010. The shooting took place in the area known as the Westlake district. On that afternoon, bike patrol officers were summoned by a pedestrian who told them there was a man with a knife on the corner. Officers confronted the man, giving him orders to drop his weapon in both English and Spanish, but he failed to comply. When he raised his weapon, an officer opened fire and shot the suspect, who died on the scene. Now, the Westlake district has erupted into riots. People are lighting fires, throwing objects, calling the police “assassins” and “murderers,” and generally causing havoc. Everyone there seems to be of the opinion that the LAPD has caused this to happen. I would like to offer a different perspective.
There are many things the general public doesn’t understand about crime. They see a man with a knife and think life is like what they see in the movies. It seems the people of Westlake district expect an officer to perform some magical jiu-jitsu moves, and be able to catch the suspect off guard, and disarm him while avoiding the sharp knife blade of a drunken, irrational, angry man. People believe cops can shoot a weapon-wielding suspect in the wrist, causing him to drop his weapon so they can then walk up and handcuff him. I saw one lady on my local evening news program say the LAPD should have kept the man away from other people and called for backup. I’m sure she was an expert on the subject, but can I ask her, “And then what?” Apparently she knew how to keep a knife-wielding man from harming people, but failed to share her expert technique with the people who were actually brave enough to be there and do something about it. But, just as apparent, she did not know the 21 Foot Rule which says that a man with a knife can cover a distance of 21 feet in 1.5 seconds. One and a half seconds, and that’s all she wrote. How many people are trained to react to anything in 1.5 seconds? That man could have done some major damage to anyone nearby him or the officers at the scene. They are also railing against the officers for wearing riot gear. But no one mentions how the citizens are throwing rocks and bottles at them, and dropping items as big as air-conditioning units and microwaves on them from their apartment windows.
As the wife of a police officer, I can tell you that I think that officer is a hero. Who knows how many lives he saved that day? The people of Westlake were seen on television telling the cops to stay away, to leave them alone, and expressed absolutely no appreciation to them for getting a dangerous man off the streets. I can also tell you, the minute LAPD is not there and something goes down, they will riot in the streets again, accusing the police of discrimination, or dereliction of duty, or whatever else they can conjure up. One thing I have not seen the news mention is that the population of Westlake district is over 70% Latino, with 67% being foreign-born and is also known for being a haven for illegal immigrants, and for its proliferation of phony documents, ID cards, work permits, etc. Maybe the people there are confusing our officers with the police from their own country, where in many cases they can be turned away with bribes, or don’t have the same dedication and commitment to the safety of the community.
Knowing the heart of a police officer as I do, I can say that I’m sure the LAPD will always be there to do its job, protecting and serving the people of the Westlake district, with or without their appreciation.