Anaheim mayor: Feds to review police killings
(AP) ANAHEIM, Calif. - Federal officials will review two deadly police shootings that sparked a fourth day of violent protests that left downtown business heaped with shattered glass and jails full of demonstrators.
Mayor Tom Tait said Wednesday that the U.S. attorney's office has agreed to review the weekend killings and he will meet Friday with members of that office and the FBI.
"We will have a clear and complete understanding of these incidents" followed by a public dialogue on what actions should be taken, Tait said at a news conference.
The shootings and resulting demonstrations marred the image of the Orange County city, which is home to Disneyland and the Angels baseball team but also has neighborhoods teeming with gritty apartments.
On Tuesday night as many as 1,000 surged through downtown, smashing windows and vandalizing 20 businesses, setting trash fires, damaging City Hall and the police headquarters and hurling rocks and bottles at patrol cars and police in riot gear, authorities said.
The violence was finally quelled at around 2 a.m., some seven hours after it began, police said.
Twenty-four people, including four minors, were arrested on suspicion of crimes ranging from failure to disperse to assault with a deadly weapon, Police Chief John Welter said at a news conference.
Video showed knots of young men and women looting a T-shirt store.
Some 300 police from Anaheim and surrounding communities were called in and riot-clad officers used batons, pepper balls and beanbag rounds.
At least six people were injured, including a police officer who was struck on the arm with a brick, a protester who was hit in the chest by a pepper ball, and three reporters who were struck by rocks and a beanbag round, police and witnesses said.
None was immediately hospitalized.
Police will examine videos of the protests to identify violent protesters and there could be further arrests, Welter said.
He and Tait said peaceful demonstrations will be permitted but they promised to crack down on any further violence.
"Vandalism, arson and other forms of violent protest will simply not be tolerated in our city," Tait said. "We don't expect last night's situation to be repeated but if it should be, the police response will be the same: swift and appropriate."
The violence erupted from a peaceful rally after demonstrators unable to get into a packed City Hall meeting blocked a nearby intersection. After several hours, police declared an unlawful assembly and moved in, Welter said.
As they cleared the street, groups of 50 to 100 people splintered off and moved through downtown, throwing rocks and bottles at police and passing motorists, Welter said.
Some set trash can fires, and a gas station was shut down after reports that some protesters were seen filling canisters with gas.
It was the fourth day of violence in the wake of two deadly officer-involved shootings.
The family of Manuel Diaz sued the city and the Police Department on Tuesday, claiming he was shot and killed Saturday while running away, lawyer James Rumm said. The family is seeking $50 million in damages.
The second shooting occurred Sunday when officers spotted a suspected gang member in a stolen sport utility vehicle. A brief pursuit ended when three people jumped from the vehicle and ran. Joel Mathew Acevedo, 21, fired at an officer and the officer shot and killed him, authorities said.
At Tuesday's City Council meeting, scores of angry residents packed the chamber. Some called for the police chief to be fired, and for creation of a civilian police oversight commission.
"I am appalled, deeply saddened, that when the Anaheim Police Department is supposedly under scrutiny they would do this now and kill two more young men," said Jaclyn Conroy, whose nephew was killed in a police shooting in 2003.
Residents said the city needs to pay more attention to poor, gang-ridden areas.
Yesenia Rojas, 35, showed councilmembers a bruise on her side, saying she got it during the police crackdown on demonstrators on Saturday.
"This is going to go away, but what I have in my head, and what I have in my heart is going to stay forever," she said
The back-to-back deaths took the tally of shootings by officers in this Orange County city to six so far this year, up from four a year before. Five of the incidents were fatal.
Welter has said that Diaz was shot after two officers approached three men who were acting suspiciously in an alley before running away. One officer chased Diaz to the front of an apartment complex.
The chief would not say what led the officer to shoot Diaz. But Welter said Diaz failed to heed orders to stop and threw something on the roof of the complex that contained what officers believe was heroin. Both officers were placed on paid leave pending an investigation.
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