The Anaheim, California Police Association said that the Anaheim officer who shot and killed a man Saturday did so because he feared the man was reaching for a weapon in his waistband. The officer said he saw Manuel Angel Diaz turn around and grab an object in his waistband with both hands after being ordered to stop. The officer feared that it was a weapon and shot him.
The following day police shot and killed Joel Mathew Acevedo after police say he opened fire on them during a foot chase.
Police describe both Manuel Angel Diaz and Joel Mathew Acevedo as gang members.
From the Orange County Register:
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.
Read what people in Anaheim are saying on Twitter here at Twitchy.com.
Here is an earlier report from CBS Los Angeles:
His niece, 16-year-old Daisy Gonzalez, said her uncle [Manuel Angel Diaz's ] likely ran away from officers when they approached him because of his past experience with law enforcement. “He (doesn’t) like cops. He never liked them because all they do is harass and arrest anyone,” Gonzalez said.
Residents, protesting what they say is an increased police violence against them in the community, started the near riot after the shooting on nearby La Palma.