Off-duty LA officer fires gun during struggle with teen

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP/KTVU) - A Los Angeles policeman is under investigation after a video appears to show him firing a single round during an off-duty tussle with a 13-year-old boy.

No one was injured but two teenagers were arrested after the incident, which spurred dozens of people to protest against police Wednesday night in the streets of Anaheim, where the officer lives and the confrontation occurred.

There had been problems with teens walking across the officer's lawn and the boy apparently believed the officer had cursed a teenage girl who had done so on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reported ( ).

That's when the 13-year-old spoke up, a witness said.

"The little kid said, 'I'm going to sue you,' and then the guy thought he said, 'I'm going to shoot you.' That's when he started grabbing the little kid," Gregory Perez, 16, told the Orange County Register ( ).

A video posted on YouTube that was also shared with KTVU's affiliate in Los Angeles, (courtesy La Raza Unida's Facebook page) shows the officer struggling with the boy, who repeatedly denies he threatened to shoot and at one point says "Let me go...I'm only 13."

Other teens, many wearing backpacks, are watching. The officer, who is gripping the boy's hoodie, hauls him over the lawn, still struggling and protesting.

A taller youth steps in and tries to break the officer's grip. Another youth rushes the officer and he stumbles back through a small hedge, still holding the 13-year-old.

The taller boy then takes a swing at the officer. Other teens approach and the officer - still gripping the 13-year-old with one hand - pulls a gun from his waistband, crouches, and a shot is heard.

Witnesses said the officer "did not discharge the gun toward anyone," Anaheim Sgt. Daron Wyatt told KNX-AM radio.

Most of the teens back away but the 13-year-old continues to resist until police arrive. The off-duty officer puts his hands up and is walked away to be interviewed while the teenager eventually is handcuffed.

The boy was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threat and battery, while a 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of assault and battery and later released, Anaheim police said. Their names were not released because they are minors.

Anaheim and Los Angeles police were investigating the incident and the officer was cooperating, Wyatt said.

He remained off field duty while LAPD Chief Charlie Beck reviews the case and decides the officer's job status, police said.

The video was not taken or shared by police and doesn't show the entire confrontation, Wyatt said. He warned people against "rushing to judgment."

The Anaheim Police Department said it was aware of "numerous videos" posted on YouTube. The department said its Homicide Detail is investigating and when it is completed, the case will be submitted to the Orange County district attorney's office.

That office will decide whether any criminal charges should be filed.

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said in a statement Wednesday that he was concerned with what he saw in the video, and the city is committed to a full and impartial investigation.

The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement that the video was deeply disturbing, and said investigators need to explain why the boys were arrested, but not the officer who fired the shot.


Information from: The Orange County Register,