Anaheim police brace for more protests after shooting deaths

Police work to quell a disturbance sparked by a fatal police shooting in Anaheim on Saturday, July 21, 2012.
Police work to quell a disturbance sparked by a fatal police shooting in Anaheim on Saturday, July 21, 2012. NBC-LA

Anaheim police are preparing for additional protests after weekend officer-involved shootings left two men dead.

Meanwhile, city leaders are asking the California attorney general to investigate recent Anaheim police actions.

The call for an outside investigation comes after an Anaheim officer-involved shooting Saturday left one man dead. He was identified as Manuel Diaz, 25.

Anaheim Police Department spokesman Sgt. Robert Dunn said officers approached three men who were acting suspiciously in an alleyway. The men ran, Dunn added. One officer chased Diaz to the front of an apartment complex where the shooting happened.

Dunn would not say what caused the officer to shoot Diaz. Diaz was seen throwing several items as he ran, but officers did not find a gun at the scene of the shooting, Dunn said.

Dunn said Diaz was a known gang member.

"We've had increased gang activity in that neighborhood and citywide we have had increased gang activity, including gang on gang and others," said Dunn. "We have begun to pull more firearms off gang members in our contacts with them in the city."

A crowd of protesters at the shooting scene Saturday began throwing rocks and bottles at officers as they were collecting evidence, Dunn said. The crowd advanced on officers, so they fired bean bags and pepper balls at them.

“After the officer-involved shooting, what we witnessed [on Saturday] was these gang members coming out and placing themselves strategically through the crowd and trying to incite things to be larger than they otherwise needed to be," said Dunn.

Dunn said calls continue to bring police to the neighborhood.

“Since Saturday night we have been responding and we have responded — I don’t know the total number of calls to that intersection — but to La Palma and Anna Drive, which is the intersection near where the first officer-involved shooting occurred, because people are pushing trash cans into the street, lighting things on fire and impeding traffic," said Dunn.

Dunn said it is a delicate balance between maintaining order while not endangering responders.

“When the officers and the fire department respond, they’re getting objects thrown at them and bottles thrown at them as they respond," Dunn said. "So we’re looking at what tactics we can employ to make sure that people are able to have save passage in that area, but also not become a target every time we respond there.”

Second Anaheim officer-involved shooting Sunday

Another officer-involved shooting Sunday night resulted in the death of another man.

Dunn said an anti-gang unit chased a known gang member in a stolen car. When three suspects ran from the car, one suspect fired a gun at pursuing officers. Dunn says officers fired back, killing the man, who relatives identified as Joel Acevedo.

The officers in both shooting incidents are on paid administrative leave, Dunn said.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the officer-involved shootings.

The DA is asking any witnesses of the Saturday shooting, or anyone with cell phone video, video recordings or photos of the incident, to contact their office.

Meanwhile, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and other officials are asking the state attorney general to review the use of force by Anaheim police.

Anaheim City Councilwoman Lorri Galloway echoed those comments when she spoke with protesters Sunday in front of the Anaheim Police Department.

At several recent Anaheim City Council meetings, people have asked the council to look into the use of force by officers. The Anaheim neighborhood where 25-year-old Diaz was shot is livid over his death, with neighbors saying they won't cooperate with police.

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