(LOS ANGELES) — Lawyers for two teen siblings involved in an altercation with an off-duty LAPD officer filed civil lawsuits against the Anaheim and Los Angeles police departments today, alleging battery, negligence and state civil rights violations, among other claims.
The lawsuits come the day after as many as 300 people demonstrated and at least 23 were arrested after protests broke out over the altercation. Some vandalism was reported in the demonstrations, according to police.
Police say the off-duty officer fired his weapon into the ground during the scuffle on Tuesday, which was caught on video and spread through social media.
A video of part of the incident appears to show the off-duty officer struggling with a 13-year-old boy, clinging to the boy’s hooded sweatshirt as he tries to get away.
The officer appears to argue with the boy and several other people who began gathering around. At one point, the officer is shoved over a bush and a person appears to take a swing at his face.
The officer then draws what appears to be a pistol from his waistband and later reportedly fired a shot into the ground.
“The confrontation began over ongoing issues with juveniles walking across the officer’s property,” Anaheim Police Sgt. Daron Wyatt said in a statement. “During the confrontation, a 13-year-old male is alleged to have threatened to shoot the off-duty officer, at which time the officer attempted to detain the male until [Anaheim police] arrived.”
The boy’s mother, however, maintained that her son had said he was going to sue, not shoot, the officer.
Police arrested the 13-year-old on charges of criminal threats and battery and a 15-year-old for assault and battery. Both have since been released.
Police said today they knew of a 2015 report in which the officer had reported youth walking across his lawn. That report did not involve a physical confrontation or the same youth, authorities said.
The officer and the two juveniles arrested have not been named.
The teen siblings who filed suit today are identified in court papers as John Doe and M.S.
“I personally wish the off-duty officer would have awaited our arrival,” Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada said at a press conference today.
“As a father and a police chief, I too am disturbed by what I saw on the videos that were posted on the internet … Having said that, as a police chief, I am charged with enforcing the laws absent my personal feelings,” Police Chief Raul Quezada said today. “I thank God that no one was hurt.”
Police said they interviewed 18 juveniles after the incident along with the officer’s father and others and that they have insufficient evidence at this time to prove any criminal wrongdoing by the officer.
Quezada said his department was close to completing its investigation and would presents its findings to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office within the next two weeks. Charges could still be brought against all parties involved, he said.
The step-father of 13-year-old boy is a civilian employee of the Anaheim Police Department, officials said.
“Like many I am deeply disturbed and angered by the video,” Anaheim mayor Tom Tait said at the press conference, adding that the city was “committed to full and impartial investigation.”
The officer has been placed on administrative leave, according to assistant Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore. The LAPD is conducting a separate investigation into the officer’s actions.
Moore said the LAPD is looking into the off-duty officer’s decision to initiation action, his reasoning and tactics along with his decision making.
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