Source: The Orange County Register
With more than 20 people under arrest, police reported restoring order Wednesday morning after a fourth day of clashes between officers and protesters angry over two fatal officer-involved shootings in Anaheim last weekend.
At least five people were reported hurt in the unrest, with crowds setting fires, smashing windows and throwing rocks and other projectiles at officers in riot gear who fired non-lethal rounds at demonstrators refusing to disperse.
One person was taken to a hospital after being struck in the head with a pepper ball fired by police. Two Register reporters were injured – one was hit in the head with a rock and the other hit in the foot with a projectile. Both will get medical attention today.
A police officer suffered a minor arm injury, said Sgt. Bob Dunn, an Anaheim police spokesman.
Additionally, one person was injured during a fight among protesters.
ANAHEIM – Police battled “pockets of unrest” in downtown Anaheim late Tuesday night, hours after a large crowd attempting to get inside City Hall broke into violent protest.
About 20 minutes before Tuesday’s 5 p.m. City Council meeting, a 200-strong crowd tried to get inside the packed City Hall.
They were rebuffed by police officers who cited fire standards and would not let anyone else into the crowded council chambers, where the council held its regular meeting and talked about what the crowd was upset about: two police shootings over the weekend.
A half-dozen officers blocked City Hall’s entrance, while the crowd gathered around and hurled obscenities. As the crowd pressed closer, officers with helmets and batons came out the front door and pushed the protesters back, angering them.
After several minutes, some protesters called for everyone to hit the street.
For the next five-hours-plus, the tug of war between protesters and police persisted.
The crowd marched along Anaheim Boulevard to Lincoln Avenue, going into the street and blocking traffic.
Some pounded traffic signs and pulled trash cans into the street, while others pulled back the cans. One man with a bullhorn shouted how the protest was to be peaceful. A boy spray-painted a utility box. Some protesters grabbed sand from flower beds and a traffic cone and threw them at officers.
Anaheim police were assisted by officers from Garden Grove, Tustin, Brea, Fullerton and other agencies.
About 7:40, police lined across Broadway and in front of City Hall in riot gear. The crowd, now 500 strong and peaceful, stood about. Women with strollers came out to take a look. A church handed out fliers, “Jesus loves you. Come to our church.”
At 8 p.m., police from a helicopter’s speaker told the crowd to leave the Broadway/Anaheim Boulevard intersection or face arrest. Few, if any, budged.
Authorities announced a dispersal order at Anaheim and Broadway shortly before 9 p.m., then released pepper balls at the feet of the protesters, prompting the crowd to move rapidly away.
Some regrouped nearby, while others scattered throughout downtown.
Police took at least five people into custody, one for resisting arrest, said Sgt. Bob Dunn. A fight between demonstrators left one person “significantly injured,” but the victim is expected to survive.
Rocks were thrown at police throughout the protests. Officers deployed bean bags and pepper balls.
Numerous trash bin fires in nearby neighborhoods were reported throughout the evening. The crowd also broke windows to some downtown businesses, including a Starbucks.
Earlier in the evening, four or five men were seen filling 1-gallon glass bottles with gasoline and placing rags in them at an Arco Station at Anaheim Boulevard and Broadway, said Jon Dunton, a legal representative for the business. Police were called and directed employees to shut down the pumps.
While the number of protesters decreased throughout the night, police said those who remained were “intent on causing trouble.”
“They seem to be destructive,” Dunn said.
Police expected to remain on alert throughout the night. By 10:30 p.m. the large groups had dispersed, but there were more than 100 scattered protesters causing “pockets of unrest” in the downtown area, Dunn said.
“We hope to restore order by the morning,” Dunn said.
Tim Pool, an independent journalist who goes by Timcast on Ustream and Twitter, did a live webcast from the Anaheim protests.
On his webcast, at least six fires could be seen within about 45 minutes. The fires were in a trash bin, on the side of roads and alleys and inside a garbage can, which melted. He also witnessed a woman being struck in the legs.
Pool stayed behind police lines for most of the night, but when he veered out, he was fired upon with pepper balls and impact rounds, despite showing a press pass, he said. As of 10:35 p.m., he was unable to get back to the action.
Earlier in the day, the Anaheim Police Association said that the Anaheim officer who fired a fatal shot at an unarmed man this weekend saw some kind of object in the man’s waistband and feared it was a weapon.
The association’s account, and a $50 million lawsuit filed by the man’s mother, offered new details about the shooting that killed 25-year-old Manuel Angel Diaz. An attorney for Diaz’s mother said he was shot in the back, then fell to his knees and was shot again in the head.
Police have described Diaz as a known gang member and said he fled on foot down a residential alleyway when officers approached him Saturday afternoon. They have declined to speak in any more detail about what led to the shooting.
The next day, an Anaheim gang officer shot and killed another man, Joel Mathew Acevedo, 21, in an unrelated incident. Police also described Acevedo as a known gang member and said he opened fire on officers during a foot chase.
The back-to-back shootings have sparked several demonstrations.
“The community is scared and angry,” said Joanne Sosa, who helped organize Tuesday’s protest. “We don’t want violence, we just want those people (in City Hall) to know things need to change.”
Diaz was talking with friends when police confronted them, according to an attorney representing Diaz’s mother in her lawsuit against the city. All three ran, and two officers chased Diaz, attorney Dana Douglas said in a statement.
One of the officers had recognized Diaz as a known gang member and saw him holding a “concealed object” in his waistband with both hands, according to the police association. He ignored their orders to stop running, then pulled the object from his waistband and turned toward the officers, the association said.
“Feeling that Diaz was drawing a weapon, the officer opened fire on Diaz to stop the threat,” the association said in its statement. Anaheim police said after the shooting that Diaz was not armed; the association declined to say what the object that the officer reported seeing was.
The attorney for Diaz’s mother called that account of the shooting an “absolute fabrication.” She said Diaz was shot in the back and the back of the head, so it would have been “physically impossible” for him to have turned toward the officers. She also said no witnesses she interviewed had seen Diaz turn.
A city spokeswoman did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Douglas said she also filed a formal claim for damages against the city, a precursor to a lawsuit in state court.
The day after Diaz was killed, a gang investigator patrolling a nearby neighborhood saw a stolen vehicle and tried to pull it over, according to the police association. The driver instead led officers on a short pursuit and crashed; three people got out and ran.
One of them, Acevedo, turned during the chase and fired a handgun at an officer, the police association said. The officer returned fire, killing him. A handgun was recovered next to his body.
Court records show that Acevedo pleaded guilty in 2010 to resisting a peace officer and in 2009 to street terrorism and receiving stolen property. Diaz pleaded guilty in 2011 to drug charges and in 2008 to having a firearm on school grounds, with a street-gang enhancement, records show.
The two shootings in two days brought to six the number of officer-involved shootings in Anaheim so far this year; five were fatal.
Officers fired bean bags and pepper spray into a group of protesters that had gathered near the scene of the Diaz shooting Saturday. A police dog also escaped its handler and charged into the crowd.
“It’s wrong what the police are doing. It’s like it’s ‘shoot to kill’ now,” said Pauline Miltimore, who joined Tuesday’s protest outside City Hall and said she was Acevedo’s cousin. “Even if it doesn’t make a difference, I have to (protest). It broke my heart when I found out.”
The FBI is reviewing whether a civil-rights investigation is warranted after the two shootings, spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. City leaders have also invited the state Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate.
The District Attorney’s Office is investigating both shootings, which is standard protocol for officer-involved shootings.
Register staff writers Alejandra Molina, Denisse Salazar and Sarah Tully contributed to this story.
Contact the writer: 714-704-3777 or email@example.com
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