Anaheim police released police dogs and shot rubber bullets at local residents who, ironically enough, had gathered to protest a rise in police violence in the community on Saturday, reports CBS Los Angeles.
As chaos erupted, residents took out their cameras and cell phones to record the action. Once the situation calmed down, at least four witnesses claim the police attempted to buy their video recording devices from them, presumably to prevent the footage from seeing the light of day.
Seeing video of the incident, it is not hard to guess why the police would want to make the footage vanish. KCAL’s on-air report features some of the recordings. Please be warned that the video is age-restricted as some of the images may be considered traumatic.
From the video, it is apparent that the police fired “non-lethal” weapons at a retreating crowd, including women and children, striking several. Another scene shows a police dog attack a mother, knock over her stroller with a baby in it, and then sink his teeth into a nearby bystander.
“They shot at me while I was holding a baby!” said Susan Lopez. Another woman confirmed the indiscriminate gunfire. “They just shot as us, they shot at a little kid, too.”
Speaking to the OC Register, Police Sgt. Bob Dunn said that the incident occurred after the police attempted to stop a man who threw either a plastic bottle or rock toward them. (It is unclear why they are not sure which item was thrown.) As they detained the man, Dunn says that the crowd came “too close” to the officers, which is when the rubber bullets were fired.
As for the police dog, Dunn said that the animal accidentally escaped from the K9 officer’s control when the attack happened. He did acknowledge that people were injured by the dog before it could be restrained. Dunn also said he would look into the report that officers attempted to buy video footage from witnesses.
Throughout the day, no officers were injured.
The protest had been incited by an incident earlier in the afternoon. Manuel Diaz was shot twice when he tried to flee from an officer. Crystal Ventura, a witness to the shooting, said Diaz had his back to the police when he was first shot. Diaz then dropped to his knees, when the police shot him a second time in the head. After Diaz lay motionless on the ground, the officer handcuffed the man. Diaz was later pronounced dead at the hospital. Dunn had no Department comment about the Diaz shooting as he said the incident was still under investigation.
Yesenia Rojas says the crowd gathered to demand face time with Anaheim Police Chief John Welter. “We were all waiting for him to come and talk to the community and gave us an explanation. Why kill [Diaz]?” Rojas was among the protesters shot by the police in the scuffle.
If Anaheim residents were already unhappy with police violence in the community, the day’s events only riled up the crowd further. By nightfall, protesters took over a street and set a dumpster on fire. Police used teargas to help disperse the crowd, eventually regaining control of the street.
Activists have long complained that the police are actively involved in stifling their First Amendment rights, and if this incident is any indication, they especially do not take kindly to people protesting the police directly. With video footage often vindicating the protesters, it is no surprise that the police are trying to “vanish” that evidence, too.
Photo Credit: Darin Barry
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