Anaheim Police Shooting Sparks Protests

Tensions mounted against Anaheim police after a fatal officer-involved shooting in Anaheim on Saturday

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has called for an independent probe into a fatal police shooting and has asked the state Attorney General’s office to get involved in the case.

Police shot and fatally wounded a man on Saturday about 4 p.m. while patrolling an area in the 700 block of North Anna Drive, a location police say they have seen a spike in crime.

The case sparked a protest that prompted police to use pepper balls and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd and at least two people were bitten when a police dog got out of an unsecured squad car.

During a press conference on Sunday, Tait said he was calling on Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate the case.

"Transparency is essential,” Tait said during a press conference at the Anaheim Police Department headquarters at which some 70 protesters stormed the lobby. “The investigation will seek the truth. And whatever the truth is, we will own it.”

The press conference came as a protest over the shooting resumed into a second day. Demonstrators -- including members of Occupy Orange County -- stood outside the Anaheim Police Department headquarters and shouted "No Justice! No Peace!"

The protest was the latest in a series that began Saturday night when police said a small group of agitators threw rocks and bottles at police and set a trash bin on fire.

Three people were detained and the turmoil was quelled.

“It's not uncommon for people in a large crowd to be back deep in the crowd, inciting violence against the police," Welter said. "In this case, that appeared to be what was happening."

Police identified one of the agitators as a known gang member. When police tried to arrest him, the crowd began to rush officers, who fired pepper balls and non-lethal rounds, police said.

"It appeared as though they were going to try to take the prisoner and get the prisoner free from the officers," Welter said.

Later, police learned that he had been involved in a gang-related homicide in May in Anaheim. He was booked into custody on a murder charge. His identity was not released.

The melee was exacerbated when a police dog got out of a squad car and bit people, something Welter apologized for.

“We’re extremely sorry,” he said. “I’m certainly very concerned about anyone who was bit. It's embarrasing to us. The officer, I'm telling you, was just devastated."

He said two people were bitten, one of whom received medical treatment.

J.R. Lagunas was one of the men bitten by the dog. The dog bit Lagunas in the arm. He said he was attacked as he was walking with his toddler son who was in a stoller. They toppled to the ground. The baby was not injured.

Televised video showed at least one man with apparent bite marks on his back and a German shepherd biting the arm of another person.

The dog got out of the squad car through an open window between the front seats and the compartment in the back and through an open door, Welter said.

The turmoil occurred hours after police fatally shot a man, identified as Manuel Angel Diaz, after a foot chase through an alley.

While Diaz's mother mourned the death she struggled to understand what happened and why.

"He was shot first in the back," she told NBC4 through tears. "He was down. Then they shot him the second time. Then they shot him in the head."

He was shot after police noticed him talking with two other men in the alley, an area Welter said has seen a recent spike in gang and narcotics crimes.

When the man saw police, he ran. The two other men disappeared, Welter said.

During the chase, police saw an object thrown on a roof and an object tossed over a fence, Welter said. Police said they found no weapon.

The chase continued when the man ignored officers' commands to stop. After he was shot, he was taken to a hospital where he died at 7 p.m., police said.

"We are not sure exactly what happened," Welter said. "We haven't interviewed all the witnesses in the area."

In addition to the police investigation, the Orange County District Attorney's Office will conduct a probe, as is routine in officer-involved shootings.

City officials, meanwhile, called for calm while a full and transparent investigation is conducted.

"... we will do everything we can to find the truth about what truly happened out there," Councilwoman Lorri Galloway told the Register.

The shooting comes as the city struggles with rising crime and as families of shooting victims have been holding weekly protests at the police station.

Anaheim was among six California cities with a population over 100,000 that saw the biggest spikes in violent crime in 2011, according to an analysis of FBI crime data released last month.

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