Mother of Man Shot by Anaheim Police Pleads for Calm - NBC Southern California

Ongoing coverage of events in Anaheim after a series of police shootings

Mother of Man Shot by Anaheim Police Pleads for Calm

Federal investigators say they will look into two incidents last weekend, including one in which an unarmed man was shot and killed after he ran from police.



    Police Shooting Victim's Mother Pleads for an End to Violent Protests in Anaheim

    Manuel Diaz's mother, Genevieve Huizar, pleads for the violent protests in response to fatal officer-involved shootings -- including that of her son -- to stop. Manuel Diaz was shot and killed by police on Saturday after fleeing on foot. The family has filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Anaheim. Michelle Valles reports from Anaheim for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 25, 2012. (Published Wednesday, July 25, 2012)

    This story was updated for clarification on July 30 to reflect new information.

    As the FBI considers stepping in to investigate a pair of fatal police shootings in Anaheim, the mother of one of the men who was killed is pleading for calm.

    "Please, please, please stop the violence," Genevieve Huizar said at a news conference Wednesday.

    Huizar showed pictures of her slain son, Manuel Angel Diaz, 25, at family gatherings, playing basketball in high school, and holding a sign expressing pride in a step-brother who was serving in the military.

    Mother of Anaheim Police Shooting Victim: "Please Stop the Violence"

    [LA] Mother of Anaheim Police Shooting Victim: "Please Stop the Violence"
    Mom Genevieve Huizar pleads for calm after crowds erupt in anger over the deaths of her son and another man at the hands of police. Vikki Vargas reports from Santa Ana for the NBC4 News at Noon on July 25, 2012.
    (Published Wednesday, July 25, 2012)

    "I wept as my son took his last breath," Huizar said. "I watched as his heart stopped beating."

    Diaz who was unarmed, was shot and killed on Saturday after fleeing from police on foot. On Tuesday, his family filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Anaheim.

    The family has alleged that police, who called Diaz a known gang member, shot him first in the leg and then in the head. 

    Anaheim Cleanup: It's a Mess

    [LA] Anaheim Cleanup: It's a Mess
    A resident was sweeping up debris left behind after a violent night in Anaheim. Annette Arreola reports from Anaheim for Today in LA on Wednesday, July 25, 2012.
    (Published Wednesday, July 25, 2012)

    A day after Diaz died, a second man was shot and killed by Anaheim police, and anger over the two incidents boiled over on Tuesday night, as a crowd that was at times as large as 500 people clashed with police, culminating in the arrests of 24 people.

    In a news conference on Wednesday morning Mayor Tom Tait took a strong tone against the protesters, saying that city welcomed public comment at its council meetings, but that vandalism and violence would not be tolerated.

    He said city officials believe that some in the crowd were from outside the city.

    "We are happy to hear from any and all residents," Tait said. "But we will not accept any violent protests, vandalism or arson perpetrated under the guise of public protest."

    Anaheim police Sgt. Bob Dunn told NBC4 that demonstrations and occasional violence continued until about 2 a.m., seven hours after residents gathered outside a meeting of the city council.

    At that meeting, the council voted to ask the U.S. Attorney’s office to investigate the shootings, which took place Saturday and Sunday. So far this year, police in Anaheim have been involved in eight shootings, officials said, two of them fatal.

    Diaz was shot and killed after he fled police by running down an alley in the 700 block of North Anna Drive. The next day, on Sunday, 21-year-old Joel Mathew Acevedo was shot and killed – also after fleeing on foot.

    In Acevedo’s case, police have said that one of the three people who were fleeing on foot that night pulled out a gun and began shooting at officers. A handgun was found near Acevedo’s body.
    Police have called both men gang members.

    By 4 p.m. Tuesday, protesters began gathering outside Anaheim City Hall, many clamoring to get inside after the chambers were full.

    After police arrested a man whom they mistakenly believed had brought a gun, some in the crowd began throwing rocks. Police ordered the crowd to disperse at about 9 p.m. and fired pepper balls at their feet, police said.

    The majority of the crowd had dispersed by 11 p.m., but a small contingent remained in the street. Anaheim Boulevard was reopened with a heavy police presence. At the demonstration's peak, more than 200 police officers were at the scene, Dunn said.

    Several fires broke out near the scene of the protest -- one in a trash bin, another near a bus bench, according to aerial footage. It was not immediately clear how the fires started.

    At least one person was transported to the hospital after being shot in the head with a pepperball, said Sgt. Bob Dunn with Anaheim police. No officers were injured.

    Police continued to take demonstrators into custody as of 11:30 p.m., according to aerial footage. Four of those arrested were juveniles, police said.

    Tensions escalated for hours throughout the city where several bank and coffee shop windows were smashed with rocks.

    Law enforcement was on high alert as the protest turned violent, with demonstrators throwing rocks, bricks and traffic cones at officers and squad cars, Dunn said, adding that a print reporter appeared to be injured in the melee, possibly struck with a rock.

    A separate group appeared to gather near the scene of one of the deadly shootings, setting up a candlelight vigil, according to aerial footage.

    Diaz' death sparked protests during the weekend, including one on Saturday in which a trash bin was set on fire and a small group of people threw rocks and bottles at police. Three people were detained, officials said.

    Tait called for a state and federal probe of the fatal shootings during a news conference Sunday, at which some 70 protesters stormed the lobby.

    "Transparency is essential," Tait said Sunday. "The investigation will seek the truth. And whatever the truth is, we will own it."

    At least four agencies are considering joining the investigation, including the U.S. Attorney's office, the State Attorney General, the Anaheim Police Department's Officer of Internal Affairs and -- as is usual for officer-involved shootings -- the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

    Anaheim officials say they will meet with the FBI and others on Friday.

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