Protesters Block Streets After Off-Duty LAPD Officer Fires Gun During Fight With Teenagers - NBC Southern California

Protesters Block Streets After Off-Duty LAPD Officer Fires Gun During Fight With Teenagers

Twenty-four people were arrested during the protests, Anaheim police said.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Video Sparks Outrage, Protests in Anaheim

    Two dozen people were arrested as a result of the protests in Anaheim over an off-duty LAPD officer firing his gun during a confrontation with a group of teenagers. (Published Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017)

    Video surfaced Wednesday of a fight in Anaheim between at least two teenage boys and an off-duty Los Angeles police officer who fired a gun during the scuffle.

    Meanwhile, hundreds of people protested outside the officer's home before taking to streets of Anaheim. As of early Thursday, 24 people were arrested, six of them juveniles, on suspicion of misdemeanor charges for failing to disperse, resisting arrest and battery on a peace officer, according to Anaheim police.

    The officer is on administrative leave, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, whose Force Investigation Division is investigating the shooting and will review all video of the incident.

    Two of the boys were arrested and released to their parents, according to Anaheim police.

    Protests Get Wild, Innocent Neighbors Targeted in Viral Video Fallout

    [LA] Protests Get Wild, Innocent Neighbors Targeted in Viral Video Fallout

    Protesters took to the streets and spray-painted a home after a viral video showed an officer firing a gun while in a fight with teens. The off duty cop's neighbors became the target of offensive graffiti Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.

    (Published Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017)

    Officers responded about 2:40 p.m. Tuesday to a report of a fight between a man and several boys and learned en route that the man was an off-duty LAPD officer who had "discharged his firearm and was detaining at least one of the juveniles," said Anaheim police Sgt. Daron Wyatt of the Anaheim Police Department, which is also investigating.

    The video of the conflict has generated a great deal of interest. Wyatt said it "picks up several houses down from where the initial contact was made." 

    For several months, the officer has been dealing with local teens walking across his lawn, Wyatt said.

    "Yesterday, he sees the kids walking on the lawn and he says, 'Hey, guys, please walk on the sidewalk,'" Wyatt said.

    That prompted a chorus of epithets from some of the juveniles, Wyatt said.

    What's in dispute is what a 13-year-old said to the officer. The officer said he moved to detain the teen because he allegedly said he would shoot the officer, Wyatt said.

    The boy's mother, however, has told reporters her son told the officer he intended to "sue you," Wyatt said.

    On the video, the boy is heard insisting he said "sue you," not "shoot you."

    At some point, another boy, a 15-year-old, barreled into the two over some bushes, knocking the officer down.

    The officer held on to the 13-year-old and as he was getting up other onlookers appear to converge on the officer in a menacing fashion but then they scamper away in fear when a shot rings out.

    The 15-year-old told reporters, "I just saw a guy just holding a little kid, so I just wanted to help the kid out. So I tried to help him, move them apart." 

    The LAPD officer has been reassigned to a desk job, which is routine in an officer-involved shooting.

    The 15-year-old was arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of misdemeanor battery and assault and then released to his parents, Wyatt said.

    The 13-year-old was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats and was released to his parents Wednesday, Wyatt said.

    Anaheim police are planning a news conference for Thursday to provide an update on the investigation, Wyatt said.

    Once the investigation is completed the results will be forwarded to the Orange County District Attorney's Office for review, Wyatt said.

    "The complete investigation will be reviewed by the chief of police and the Board of Police Commissioners to determine whether the use of deadly force complied with LAPD's policies and procedures," according to a department statement.

    Jennifer Rojas, community engagement and policy advocate at the ACLU of Southern California, said the organization is "deeply disturbed" by reports and video of what occurred.

    "The ACLU calls on the LAPD to investigate the matter fully and take appropriate action in regard to the officer," she said.

    "It also calls on the Anaheim Police Department to provide a full explanation of why, in an altercation between the police officer and youths, the youths were arrested but not the officer who fired his gun.

    "An officer, even off duty, has an obligation to follow the law and protect public safety, rather than threaten it. The LAPD officer's actions on the video are grossly irresponsible." 

    A Facebook event titled "END POLICE TERROR IN ANAHEIM" was scheduled for 7 p.m. where the original incident occurred. It was not immediately clear who was hosting the event.

    Aerial footage from NewsChopper 4 showed protesters blocking Anaheim streets and holding banners. Demonstrators were seen surrounding traffic and jumping onto vehicles.

    Police were seen forming a skirmish line, facing off with the protesters.

    The Anaheim Police Department called a tactical alert around 8:40 p.m. for the large protest in the area of Euclid Street and Palais Road in Anaheim.

    The department tweeted it is prepared to make arrests and that "acts of violence and destruction of property will NOT be tolerated."

    Demonstrators swarmed and Anaheim neighborhood and mistakenly vandalized a couple's home two doors down for the officer's house. A hateful message was spray-painted on the garage.

    For months, the officer has been dealing with teenagers in the neighborhood walking on his lawn, police said. Edith and Joe Gulrich said it's an ongoing problem.

    "They kick stuff when they're going across, they don't care and they've also tagged his wall repeatedly," Edith Gulrich said.

    A special telephone number was created by the Anaheim Police Department for those who wish to comment about the incident. The number is 714-765-7990.

    NBC4's Whitney Irick and Hetty Chang contributed to this report.

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