The sheriff's department announced Tuesday it will conduct an in-depth review of its rifle deployment policy and training after a viral video showed deputies pointing guns, including at least one AR-15, at a group of teens after witnesses reported the youths were being attacked by a man armed with a knife in Santa Clarita.
"As a result of that interaction, Sheriff Villanueva has directed a thorough review of our policy as it pertains to the deployment of the AR-15 rifle, as seen in the video,'' Los Angeles County sheriff's Chief Dennis Kneer said in a video posted on Twitter. "We will thoroughly review our actions related to this incident and take appropriate action as necessary.''
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The incident occurred Friday about 5 p.m. in the 19200 block of Soledad Canyon Road, near Whites Canyon Road.
Tammi Collins, the mother of one of the three teens, told NBCLA that multiple witnesses called authorities after seeing the group being attacked.
The man asked the teens if they "had any crack, then tried to take their things,'' Collins said in an Instagram post. He then took out a knife and a whip, and the teens "only had their skateboards to cover them from the knife and whip,'' according to Collins.
A video posted online shows responding sheriff's deputies with their guns pointed at the teens, who have their hands in the air, while witnesses scream at the deputies that the teens were the victims of the attack.
"It's the other guy!'' one woman is heard telling the deputies.
"Put your guns down, they're kids, they weren't doing anything,'' another woman said.
"I am the one who called you. It was not them,'' said another.
The witnesses call out to the teens to tell them to keep their hands up.
Deputies respond by telling the witnesses to back up, and at least one of the teens is seen being detained in the background while multiple deputies point their guns. It was not immediately clear if anyone was arrested.
The video had been viewed on Twitter more than 8 million times as of Tuesday afternoon. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he was among those who saw the footage.
"I have seen the recent video involving a Santa Clarita incident which has gone viral and I have concerns regarding the tactics employed,'' Villanueva said in a video posted on Twitter Monday afternoon. "The matter is currently being investigated.''
Collins posted the video on her Instagram on Saturday and it was circulated widely on Twitter.
"I know that my son will never forget this experience. Especially after George Floyd, I sat him down and talked to him about how to respond if he was ever approached by police, so he knew exactly what to do," Tammi Collins told NBCLA. "How to follow orders, not to say anything, not to do anything out of character. So to see how they treated the boys, it was literally heartbreaking. I couldn't watch the full video."