Over 300 protesters gathered in Anaheim, California on Wednesday night after video surfaced of an off-duty cop firing a gun during an altercation with a teenager.
Crowds rallied outside the home of the Los Angeles Police Department officer after video showed him dragging a 13-year-old boy through bushes and firing a single round after a horde of teenagers walked on his lawn.
According to police spokesman Daron Wyatt, 24 protesters — including 10 men, 8 women, and 6 juveniles — were arrested, and there were reports of windows being broken and other acts of vandalism.
The now-viral video appears to show the unidentified officer clutching onto the young teen while being confronted by the boy’s friends.
The clip does not reveal how the incident began, but shows the teen repeatedly telling the cop to let him go. After the cop pulls the teen into a hedge, the boy’s friends lunge at the officer, which causes him to pull out his gun and fire it.
The 13-year-old was arrested along with a 15-year-old, and the trigger happy officer is on administrative leave while the incident is under investigation.
There were no injuries from the gunshot, but the boy’s grandmother told press he had suffered "a lot of bruises."
Jennifer Dorscht said the boy was standing up for a 13-year-old girl who had originally been in a spat with the officer, and accused the cop of using profanity against the kids. She told NBC News:
"It’s just a terrible situation. It could’ve been handled completely in a different manner. He’s a good kid. He does all the right things, he has a good heart. I think that’s why he stuck up for this girl."
The LAPD, however, says the videos "do not depict the entire event." Their internal investigation found that the standoff "began over ongoing issues with juveniles walking across the officer’s property."
In a statement, the department said the boy allegedly "threatened to shoot the off-duty officer, at which time the officer attempted to detain the male… This led to a physical confrontation between the off-duty officer and several other juveniles."
The statement added the boy was booked at Orange County Juvenile Hall for criminal threats and battery. His 15-year-old friend was arrested for assault and battery, but was released to his parents.
Jennifer Rojas, a policy advocate at the American Civil Liberties Union said the organization is "deeply disturbed" by the reports and demanded "a full explanation of why, in an altercation between the police officer and youths, the youths were arrested but not the officer who fired his gun." We don’t disagree.
As for the growing protests, the Anaheim Police Department encouraged "peaceful protests in accordance with the law" in a Facebook post, but noted "acts of violence or vandalism will not be tolerated":
What a mess.
What do U make of all this? Watch the original footage (below) to see the heated altercation.