A prisoners' rights group on Friday called for the arrests and prosecutions of Anaheim officers involved in two fatal police shootings last month that sparked a series of protests and garnered national media attention.
Keith James, with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, condemned the Anaheim Police Department for shooting and killing Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo and called for the arrests of the officers involved.
"This is outrageous and a crime … and they do need to be prosecuted,” he said at a press on Anna Drive, where Diaz was shot after a foot pursuit with Anaheim police on July 21.
Anaheim police shot Acevedo the next day. They say both men were documented gang members. Diaz was not armed.
Diaz’s mother, Genevieve Huizar, recalled her son’s death.
“I seen him bleeding … I seen him take his last breath,” said Huizar, who was among several mothers of sons who’ve been fatally shot by Anaheim police over the years. “Doctors told me they didn’t even know he had a bullet in his back till they saw the blood pouring out.
"They were concentrating on his head and they said they could not mend him. So I had to let him go."
Weeks after the shootings, more than 100 federal agents and police officers conducted a series of raids in Anaheim, arresting 44 suspected members and associates of a gang called East Side Anaheim, accusing them of at least a year-long string of crimes ranging from drug trafficking and weapons possession to homicide. The police said the case had been in the works for a year and was not related to the police shootings.
James said authorities conducted the crackdown “to wage war on impoverished Latino communities” and “to justify outright murder.”
“The ‘gang member’ label has now become justification for law enforcement to demonize, criminalize and execute youth of color; especially in Anaheim – where the APD have killed 5 people since January 1,” Stop Mass Incarceration Network said in a statement.
The shootings of Diaz and Acevedo sparked a series of protests across the country, clashes with Anaheim police and calls for city reform.
In the last decade, no officer has been criminally charged in an officer-involved shooting, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said.