Protests took place in Los Angeles after an off-duty LAPD officer was captured on cell phone video discharging his weapon during an altercation with a 13-year-old boy.
The altercation allegedly started when a group of students were walking past the officers house and he cursed at a girl who walked on his grass. The 13-year-old then spoke up and the situation escalated.
The officer claimed that the 13-year-old threatened to shoot him, which the teen can be seen denying on video. After continuing to struggle with the child, a couple of the other children in the video intervene with one knocking the officer over a row of bushes. That is when he stood up, reached for his weapon and fired it, causing them to scatter. No one was injured.
“In the officer’s mind, he heard the young man say he was going to shoot him. He thought he had a gun,” said the officer’s attorney, Larry Hanna, in a statement.
“It was a warning shot to get this crowd of people away from him who were intent on doing him bodily injury and it’s shown on the video he was doing no bodily injury to the young man.”
While the officer wasn’t arrested, the 13-year-old and a 15-year-old were taken into custody once police arrived at the scene. Fortunately, the District’s Attorney rejected all charged brought up against them.
Members of the local and broader community are visibly upset about the entire situation.
“The video shows an adult wrestling with a 13-year-old kid, and ultimately firing a gun,” Mayor Tom Tait said. “This has been a blow to our community.”
The next day, more than 300 protestors took to the streets in Anaheim to express that anger and frustration over a situation that should have never occurred and could’ve ended very differently.
“It could have been me, my friend or someone from my family,” Jocelyne Gutierrez, 21, told The Los Angeles Times.
“I wish the officer had awaited our officers’ arrival,” Anaheim police Chief Raul Quezada said. “As a father and as a police chief, I, too, am disturbed by what I saw on the videos posted on the internet. But as police chief, I am charged with enforcing the law.”