Man fatally shot by police was a transient

DOWNEY - After a week of investigation, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has identified the man shot and killed by Downey police officers last week near the intersection of Firestone Boulevard and Old River School Road.Initially described as a Hispanic adult male, the man was positively identified as 42-year-old Manuel Vargas, a transient from Huntington Park who had been living in the area. Last Wednesday, Downey police officers were assisting the Downey Fire Department with a palm tree fire near the railroad tracks on the northwest corner of Firestone Boulevard and Old River School Road. According to a report issued by the sheriff's department, Downey firefighters pointed out Vargas who was near the area of the fire. The two Downey police officers contacted him to see if he could assist them with information regarding the palm tree fire, but a confrontation immediately occurred when Vargas raised a stick he had in his hand. Vargas then produced a folding knife with a nearly three-inch blade and charged at the officers. Both officers fired at Vargas around 6:51 p.m., striking him multiple times in the chest. He was then taken to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. The sheriff's department is withholding the Downey officers' names until the investigation is complete. Neither officer was injured during the confrontation. Investigators said a second folding knife was recovered at the scene, but was found in the closed position. The cause of the fire is also still under investigation. According to sheriff's department officials, the Los Angeles County Coroner will release Vargas' autopsy results in the coming weeks.

********** Published: October 20, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 27