By Ed Adamczyk
Feb. 23 (UPI) — Anaheim police said they arrested 24 people after a protest over a confrontation between a teenager and an off-duty police officer in which the officer shot his gun in the air.
Hundreds of people protested Wednesday evening, some of them outside the home of the unidentified Los Angeles police officer. A day earlier, the officer was involved in a confrontation on his front lawn with several teenagers in an ongoing argument over trespassing on his property. A boy, 13, was arrested after he allegedly threatened to shoot the officer, Anaheim Police Sgt. Daron Wyatt said. He added that another boy, 15, was arrested on suspicion of assault and battery.
The officer can be seen on the video holding on to the 13-year-old. Another teenager, at one point, charges the officer, knocking him into some bushes. After he regains his footing, several teenagers begin to close in on him, at which point the officer takes a handgun out of his waistband and fires into the air, apparently to disperse the teens.
Community leaders spoke of remaining calm during Wednesday’s assembly, which involved about 300 people by the end of the night, but the protest became violent, the Orange County Register reported. Trash cans were overturned in the police officer’s driveway, the word “pigs” spray-painted on his garage door in red, and the windows of his home broken. Protesters also climbed atop a nearby unoccupied pickup truck, and trash and other objects were thrown at Anaheim police who were across the street, monitoring the demonstrations.
The protesters then left the scene but blocked local traffic until they were confronted by Anaheim police in riot gear. An unlawful assembly was declared through a police helicopter loudspeaker.
The crowd dispersed but not before 24 people – 10 men, eight women and six juveniles – were arrested for misdemeanors, including failure to disperse, battery on a peace officer and resisting arrest, Wyatt said. He noted that the gun that was fired on Tuesday was not the police officer’s service weapon.
A video of the altercation was uploaded to YouTube.
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said in a statement Wednesday that the city “is committed to a full and impartial investigation. Our city will move forward without delay.”