Reformed or Not Reformed....That is the Question.

How the LAPD killing of a knife-wielding man once again proves unity between the department and the community will never exist

By William Gallegos
Published on LatinoLA: September 13, 2010

Reformed or Not Reformed....That is the Question.

Just the other night, I was changing the channel around when I saw an episode of the Spanish show "Alarma TV". For those unfamiliar with this show, it is a half hour show hosted by a guy and girl and features all types of videos taken by amateurs.

The videos can be anything from dead bodies at a crime scene to animals falling victim to abuse to hot-looking women posing in lingerie. Anyway, in this one episode I watching, there was footage of a man wielding a knife to a group of roughly three to four police officers. Looking at the neighborhood, those at the scene, and the uniforms the officers were wearing (which included baseball caps), it was likely this was filmed somewhere in a Latin American country.

Within seconds of watching the man wielding his knife, the officers pepper-sprayed him before whacking him on the arm with their billy clubs. The man was quickly apprehended without any injuries to anyone and most important, without any deaths.

Now of course, something like this reminds all of us living in Los Angeles of a recent incident that took place in our very own backyards. Like the video, this incident included a man who was also wielding a knife, this time at LAPD officers.

This result was deadly, and to me, both avoidable and unsurprising. Rather than using pepper spray or billy clubs, like the officers in the amateur video did, these LAPD officers chose to put not one. but two bullets into this man's head, killing him instantly. Sure, someone (perhaps even me) will ask "What was he doing with a knife in the first place" or "Was this man not asking for trouble" but is it not the LAPD's job to see that an incident like this ends on a positive note?

Were these officers out of pepper spray? Were their billy clubs not on hand? Was shooting the individual in the legs or arms not a possible alternative? I suppose someone out there is going to tell me that unlike the officers in the video, the three officers involved in this killing were in fear of their lives and therefore shooting the individual in the head was necessary.

I also suppose that someone is going to tell me that these officers were not given the excellent training like those officers in the video? The "l did what I was trained to do" and the "I was not trained properly" excuses are very popular defenses among busted police officers nationwide.

Since this killing, we have seen protests, fires, vandalized police cars, and of course, silly press conferences where the public is suckered into believing that the LAPD, its Chief, the Mayor, and other political leaders really care and that a thorough investigation is promised to all.

Within 24 hours of this press conference, a town hall meeting took place where Police Chief Charlie Beck was already defending the actions of the officers involved in the shooting but was still promising a thorough investigation (SOUNDS LIKE HE ALREADY KNOWS THE RESULTS). The Chief would immediately be hit with boos and jeers, which likely went through one ear and out the other.

As for the always-cowardly Mayor.....not in attendance (must have been attending some expensive event that night for free). Now as for the main officer involved in the shooting, Frank Hernandez, this has already been the third shooting he has been involved in. It also turns out that this officer is currently being sued by an individual by the name of Joseph Wolf who was unlawfully shot by Officer Hernandez in 2008.

According to Mr Wolf's story, he was awakened by the sound of a helicopter flying over his neighborhood one night and when going outside to check on the situation, was shot by Officer Hernandez, who claimed Mr Wolf was armed (this lie was nothing more than a excuse to justify Officer Hernandez' actions). As for this killing, both Officer Hernandez and two other officers involved have since been put on paid administrative leave. What the public sees as paid leave, these officers likely see as "vacation time"........"WOO-HOO!!!!! VEGAS, HERE WE COME"!!!!!

This latest LAPD killing is nothing shocking to the people of Los Angeles. And the results of its investigation will be no different as well. Remember the recent abuses to those at the MacArthur park melee, which we all saw on video? All were told a thorough investigation would take place.

The result...... all officers got to keep their jobs. What about the little girl held hostage by her father who would instead end up being killed by an LAPD cop? The result.....the officer got to keep his job. What about the killing of young Devin Brown, shot while on a joyride? The result......the officer got to keep his job. What about the killing of a mentally-ill black lady who wielded a screwdriver at officers? The result....The officers got to keep their jobs. And what about way back when a black tow truck driver was killed by an LAPD motorcycle officer? The result......The officer got to keep his job.

In case all are not aware, the Mayor has not only already guaranteed that all officers involved in this killing will be cleared of any wrongdoing, but he has hailed them as "heroes" (a comment he still stands by when recently asked by KCAL 9 reporter Dave Lopez). The Mayor would then refuse to respond when asked by Mr. Lopez if he would appear at another town hall meeting. Following his brief moment with the reporter, the Mayor was seen walking as fast as possible from hecklers and protestors who were angered by his words of stupidity. So why even waste tax dollars on this investigation when the Mayor already knows the results? You might as well throw these officers back on the streets. Oh wait.....let them at least enjoy their vacations.

Now when it comes to being a cowardly idiot when dealing with the press, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has always been popular at this. He ran away from reporters who wanted to question him about the affair he was having with Spanish-language reporter Mirthala Salinas, he refused an interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly when wanting to discuss the murder of Jamiel Shaw by an illegal alien (Mr. O'Reilly wanted him to comment on why he struck down Jamiel's Law, which would have gone after gangbangers in this country illegally), and he was seen on camera avoiding channel 11 reporter Bill Schwada, who wanted to do a follow up on him accepting free concert and Lakers tickets.

Though already making a guarantee on these officers being cleared, don't expect the Mayor to comment the actual day the clearing happens. As for the Mayor's job, he cannot run for a third term, which explains why he may not care about what Angelenos think of him (don't deny the fact that his approval rating is falling as fast as Obama's...maybe even faster). It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that once this man's term is over in 2012, so is his political career. Good riddence!!!!

The thing that gets me is how it is mostly politicians, and not the LAPD, who are always the ones trying to convince us that once the smoke clears, unity between the department and the community is upon us. When things calmed down following the Rodney King beatings and the LA riots, we were suckered into believing that unity between the LAPD and the community was upon us only to be proven false, thanks in part to the Rampart scandal.

Once things calmed down following the Rampart scandal, we were suckered into believing that this same unity was upon us only to be proven false thanks in part to the killing of Devin Brown.

Once things calmed down following Devin Brown's killing, we were once again suckered into believing that this same unity was upon us only to once again be proven false thanks in part to the MacArthur Park melee.

Once things calmed down following the melee, we were once again suckered into believing that this same unity was upon us only to once again be proven false thanks in part to this latest killing.

And yes, once things calm down following this killing, we will be once again be suckered into believing that this same unity will be upon us, only to once again be proven false due to another LAPD incident that most Angelenos will agree will hit us soon again. It is times like these where I see politicians as nothing more than a bunch of phonies who are doing nothing more than "trying" to look good to the community they serve only for the sole purpose of luring in key endorsements and votes next election time. Someone tell me I'm wrong!

By now, someone reading this is looking at me as someone who hates the LAPD with a passion.

This is totally false.

What you will not hear from your average thug or gangbanger is something you will hear from me......I do believe that there are great officers within the department but unfortunately finding one is like finding a needle in a haystack (not my fault for making this comparison!). It is sad to say how we have all encountered an arrogant LAPD officer or two who thought that as long as they have a gun, a badge, and a union that no politician wants to piss off, they could say or do whatever they want to us.

Let's remember that you don't have to be some shaved-head, tattooed, uneducated, and/or unemployed individual with a criminal record in order to fall victim to this (trust me, I am the total opposite of this image and have fallen victim to LAPD harassment in the past). I also think I speak for many when I say that we all grew up with someone during our teen years who once said they wanted to be an LAPD officer simply because they wanted to "kick someone's ass" or because the badge, gun, and uniform would "lure more women".

But yes, I do believe that there are officers out there who did become one for the love of helping the people and the communities of Los Angeles. But once again, finding these officers is like finding a needle in a haystack (once again, not my fault). And most important, I do understand that LAPD officers do have a risky job and that it does break my heart every time I hear of a fallen LAPD officer who leaves behind a family but I suppose that if four white officers are seen beating the crap out of an unarmed black man on a Southern California freeway or if a group of Rampart division officers are terrorizing the community they should be serving, we are to accept their actions simply because they put their lives on the line everyday? My above comments do not make me against the LAPD but against those officers who choose to tarnish the image of the LAPD.

Besides these senseless LAPD killings, there is far much more problems tarnishing the image of the LAPD. What about those officers seen talking on their cell phones while driving (and please don't tell me it is work-related.....I have seen many officers on their phones laughing)? What about off-duty LAPD officers who avoid getting arrested for DUI by simply showing an on-duty LAPD police officer their badge? What about a deadly crime-related story on the news where your typical conscience-free LAPD officers are seen sharing a laugh or two at the scene of a crime, just feet away from the dead body of an innocent person.

This is totally disrespectful to both that dead person and their loved ones. Bet you wouldn't like it if me and my buddies were cracking jokes just feet away from a fallen officer's body.

What about the fear of retaliation or fear of even getting shot while trying to get an officer's badge number? Is it not possible those officers can say that they thought the pen you were reaching in for was a gun or that they feared the pen was going to be used as a weapon? And what about response times being so long because a few blocks away, four to six cops are interrogating some innocent person who happens to be of a different skin color or of a different language spoken? Can someone tell me how an officer can earn trust and respect from the public or how the department can be proven to be "reformed" when its officers are still doing the above actions you have read the past 10-15 minutes?

Do these officers really care about what the public thinks, considering that most LAPD officers work only three days a week, and considering that most live outside the city of Los Angeles?

As an individual I knew once said......."It's OK, because I get paid by the hour, homeboy"! Maybe it really is nothing more than just getting that nice paycheck and about feeling that toughness of having a gun and badge.

Unfortunately, this latest LAPD killing is nothing more than a day in the life of a tarnished police department, a phony group of city leaders, and the Angelenos who once again must wonder who are the ones they fear most in their neighborhoods.....the thugs and gangbangers or the LAPD.

Be very afraid.

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