Two officers put on leave after police-involved shooting leaves one dead in Anaheim
The death of Manuel Angel Diaz prompted a near riot Saturday night and protests continued Sunday.
By Meena Hart Duerson / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
A fatal police-involved shooting led to a near-riot in Anaheim.
Two police officers in Anaheim, Calif., have been placed on paid leave after being involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man on Saturday that has sparked near-riots in Orange County.
The officers were given three days off “so they can just have time to power down,” a sergeant in the Anaheim Police Department told the Daily News, adding the move is “not any kind of discipline action, it’s just a normal procedure after anyone was involved in a shooting.”
Angry protests in the neighborhood began following the shooting on Saturday, which occurred after police officers spotted three men talking in an alley they believed to be acting “suspicious.”
When the officers tried to approach them, the men took off on foot, one throwing “unidentified objects onto rooftops as he ran,” police told the Orange County Register.
The man, who was unarmed, was shot by police and died at 7 p.m. at a local hospital.
He has been identified by his family as 25-year-old Manuel Angel Diaz.
MINDY SCHAUER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Activist Marlena Carrillo shouts at police inside the Anaheim Police Department Sunday.
Police described Diaz as a “documented gang member” according to the Register, and said the men’s behavior was deemed “suspicious.”
Officers stayed in the area on Saturday after the shooting and were confronted by a crowd of roughly 100 protesters, according to CBS News, who circled them and began throwing things, according to police.
The officers responded by firing rounds of rubber bullets, bean bags and pepper spray into the crowd.
Some of the chaos was caught on tape by KCAL-TV, including the moment a police dog escaped its handler and began chasing people, ultimately biting one man.
“We are extremely sorry for the people who were bit,” Police Chief John Welter said in a press conference on Sunday. “The city will be responsible for all medical bills associated with the dog. The canine officer responsible for the dog is devastated by this.”
The protests continued on Sunday night, during which a dumpster was repeatedly set on fire and pushed into the street. Five people were arrested.
Welter defended his officers’ actions in a press conference on Sunday, saying, “I don’t have a problem with people exercising their First Amendment rights … I do have a problem when people start throwing bottles and rocks at my officers.”
“Officers in this situation can’t retreat,” he reportedly said. “If we would have abandoned the scene, we would not be doing our job.”
The climate in the area was already tense between police and civilians, the Los Angeles Times reported, and families of victims killed in police-involved shootings have held weekly protests at the police department for the last two years. City officials said in June they were going to launch an independent review into these “major police incidents.”
On Sunday, Mayor Tom Tait vowed the city and the police department were working to find out exactly what had happened.
“As with many people, I viewed the events and was very, very concerned with what I saw,” he said, according to the Register. “I’m asking for a full investigation…Transparency is essential. Whatever the truth is, we will own it.”
But that’s not enough for the victim’s sister Lupe Diaz, who maintains her brother did nothing wrong and was “just hanging out with friends” when police shot him.
“There is no explanation,” she told the Register. “It’s not fair.”
On Sunday night another man was killed in an officer-involved shooting in Anaheim when police shot a suspect in a stolen car chase.
- Anaheim to probe deadly police shootings (utsandiego.com)
- Searching for Justice: In for the Long Haul (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- Officer fatally shot man who reported break-in on Tuesday (dispatch.com)