The Latest

Southern California breaking news and trends

Anaheim officials ask for federal investigation into police shootings

43630 full

Anaheim city officials have agreed to ask the U.S. attorney's office to investigate weekend police shootings that left two men dead.

The move comes after two deadly police shootings over the weekend, including one of an unarmed man running from officers.

Police stepped up patrols and about two dozen were in riot gear outside the doors of the Anaheim City Hall as hundreds demonstrated on the streets outside.

Inside, Mayor Tom Tait and the council members voted unanimously to ask the U.S. Attorney's Office to review the shootings and the police response to the protests.

Tait has also called for federal and state probes into the Saturday shooting and Latino activists have also called for a federal investigation into Saturday's shooting in broad daylight.      

Five people have died in six Anaheim officer-involved shootings this year.  

The Saturday shooting of Manuel Diaz, who Anaheim police say was a gang-member, sparked four nights of protests. On Saturday, angry demonstrators hurled rocks and bottles at officers who were securing the scene for investigators, and police responded by firing bean bags and pepper balls at the crowd.         

Diaz's family filed a civil rights lawsuit Tuesday seeking $50 million in damages from the city of Anaheim and its police department, claiming he was shot in the back.

Mayor Tait said allegations that Diaz had been shot in the leg and in the back of his head was "unsettling."         

The Anaheim police union defended the officers Tuesday, saying both suspects were gang members with criminal records. The union also said that Diaz was shot after pulling an object from his waistband - a common place where gang members hide guns.

During the public comment portion of the Tuesday Anaheim City Council meeting, dozens of people stepped up to address the issue.

The mother of Joel Acevedo, who was killed Sunday by Anaheim police, was calm as she told the council what happened to her son "doesn't make sense."

When her time limit was up, Mayor Tait let Mrs. Acevedo continue. Neither Tait or the four council members expressed their condolences to Acevedo for the loss of her son after she spoke.

Police say her son, which they identified as a documented gang member, allegedly fired a gun at pursuing police during the Sunday incident.

Another speaker told the council, despite being identified as 'gang-bangers,' the two Latino men are "human beings first, so what happened to human rights?" 

"The Anaheim police have blood on their hands," said Manuel Hernandez, who identified himself as an 'Occupy' member. "The community is asking for prosecution, termination and compensation. We want progress from the Mayor and the City Council at each city council meeting, explaining what steps they have taken to ensure justice in the community."

The father of Kelly Thomas, Ron Thomas, told the City Council they need to set up a separate community meeting to talk about the shootings. He said that will help ease the tensions which has hundreds of community members protesting angrily in the streets.

Kelly Thomas, was beaten by six Fullerton police officers last July, and died five days later. Three Fullerton City Councilmen were recalled, partly as a result of how they handled the incident.  Two Fullerton officers face trial in connection with the death of Kelly Thomas. 

At least one speaker suggested a recall effort for some of the City Council members and many others asked for the resignation of Anaheim Police Chief John Welter...and the creation of a citizens police review board.          

With contributions from AP

blog comments powered by Disqus

Enjoy reading The Latest? You might like KPCC’s other blogs.

What's popular now on KPCC