Anaheim neighborhood livid after police shooting kills unarmed 25-year-old

Manuel Diaz shooting

Bear Guerra/KPCC

Pastor Phil Aguilar of Set Free Church in Anaheim, leads friends of Manuel Diaz in prayer at the site of the youth's death.

Manuel Diaz shooting

Bear Guerra/KPCC

Daisy, 18, writes a message for her longtime friend, Manuel Diaz. Diaz was shot by Anaheim police on July 21, 2012.

Manuel Diaz shooting

Bear Guerra/KPCC

Perla Castillo (right) hugs Daisy, 18, at the scene of Manuel Diaz's shooting in Anaheim, CA. Both were good friends of Diaz.

Manuel Diaz shooting

Bear Guerra/KPCC

A Los Angeles news crew interviews one of Manuel Diaz's friends at the scene of the youth's shooting by Anaheim police.

Manuel Diaz shooting

Bear Guerra/KPCC

A photo of Manuel Diaz, 25, is seen alongside some of his personal belongings at a memorial at the apartment complex where he was shot by Anaheim police officers on July 21, 2012.

Manuel Diaz shooting

Bear Guerra/KPCC

Alex, 18, lights a candle for his friend, Manuel Diaz. Diaz was shot and killed by Anaheim police on Saturday, July 21, 2012.

Manuel Diaz shooting

Bear Guerra/KPCC

A poster hangs on the fence in front of the Anaheim apartment complex where Manuel Diaz was shot by local police officers on July 21, 2012.


The wrought-iron fence through which Anaheim police shot 25-year-old Manuel Diaz props up a makeshift altar in his honor. Diaz was killed Saturday night as he attempted to flee police officers down a residential alley. He was later determined to have been unarmed.

Childhood friends and neighbors gathered around it two days after the shooting to leave votive candles and empty whiskey bottles.

Ricardo Hurtado, 21, says he knew Diaz in high school, where the two of them played basketball. Hurtado says young men in this neighborhood are accustomed to confrontations with the police — and they’re used to not cooperating with them.

“He had the right not to speak to them, but it was not necessary for them to shoot," said Hurtado. "Obviously, he was by himself, and there were two officers at the scene. They could’ve tackled him down, they could’ve used a taser... I mean, why did they have to use a firearm?"

Although they say Diaz appeared to be unarmed, Anaheim police also describe him as a known gang member. But childhood friend Mariano Macedo says that he was staying out of trouble, and that Latinos his age tend to fit a profile.

“You know, I’ve had problems of that kind with the police before," Macedo said. "I’m not a gang member, [but] just because I’m Hispanic and I’m young [...] I often get accused of it, you know?”

Across the street, neighbor Banfre Villegas has been "praying since Saturday" for the young people on this block. With an open Bible in one hand, Villegas says she finds that everyone — families who won’t tell police what they see, local gangs and law enforcement — shares responsibility for the shooting.

“There’s definitely violence in this neighborhood, regardless of what others tell you," Villegas said. "I really don’t think this shooting was completely the police’s fault."

Anaheim police are braced for more protests following the shootings.

Most neighbors here say that despite the Orange County district attorney’s appeal for information, they don’t plan to turn in evidence, because they don’t want to cooperate with the police in any way.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Diaz's age. Police have since released his date of birth as July 13, 1987.

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