Protests erupted in Southern California Wednesday night after a video surfaced appearing to show an off-duty LAPD police officer firing his gun during a scuffle with a group of teens.
Protesters demonstrated outside the officer’s home in Anaheim before taking to the streets, officials said. The rally shut down a major intersection in the city. Anaheim police issued a tactical alert and said they were prepared to make arrests.
The incident occured on Tuesday. Authorities responded to reports of a fight between a man and several teens. The man was later identified as the police officer and he "discharged his firearm" and detained at least one of them, Sgt. Daron Wyatt, of the Anaheim police department, said.
Wyatt said that the video “picks up several houses down from where the initial contact was made.” He said the officer in the video had been dealing with teens walking across his lawn for months.
"Yesterday, he sees the kids walking on the lawn and he says, 'Hey, guys, please walk on the sidewalk,'” Wyatt told KTTV. He said that prompted a chorus of epithets from some of the teens.
The explicit video was posted Youtube.
The LAPD said it is investigating the incident. The officer was placed on administrative leave. Two of the boys were arrested and release to their parents, Anaheim police said.
A dispute has now ensued over what the teen actually said to the officer on the video. Wyatt said the officer moved to detain the teen because he threatened to shoot the officer.
The mother of the 13-year-old who was detained denied that her son did anything wrong.
“How is a parent supposed to react? The only way we can react. We feel powerless at the moment. We’re in disbelief. We’re angry. We’re hurt. We’re sad,” the mother told KTTV.
“My son clearly states 'I never said that.' My son said, 'I’m going to sue you for hitting me. I’m going SUE you. S-U-E! I’m going to sue you.'”
The 13-year-old was facing charges for assault and battery and criminal threats. A 15-year-old was also facing assault and battery charges in the incident.
"One of those juveniles pushed the off-duty officer. He had a hold of the 13-year-old at the time. Both fell to the ground and numerous individuals began surrounding the off-duty officer,” Wyatt said.
"All the information we have is that the round was not aimed at any of the individuals and was more down towards the ground,” he added.
Anaheim police plan to hold a press conference Thursday to update the investigation.
Wyatt said the results of the investigation will be forward to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
"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,'' Anaheim police said in a statement.