Anaheim Protests Turn Violent, Family of Victim Sues

Fox News Latino, July 25, 2012

The family of the Latino man shot by police in Anaheim, Calif., filed a lawsuit against the police department as protests escalated and even turned violent.

Protesters threw rocks and bottles at police in riot gear. Riot police fired back, shooting rounds of bean bags and peppers and crowds of angry protesters Tuesday evening.

The protesters gathered of City Hall as councilmembers voted on asking the U.S. attorney’s office to investigate Sunday’s shooting death of Manuel Diaz, a suspected gang member who was unarmed when he was killed while running away from police.

Diaz’s family filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking $50 million in damages. {snip}

Residents have grown angry about the growing number of police-related shootings this year. They claim officers should use less deadly weapons rather than resorting to lethal force. Police say Diaz was a known gang member and failed to heed orders from police to stop when he ran from them.

The protests outside of City Hall grew violent when many protesters were turned away from the meeting because it was too overcrowded. About 24 protesters were arrested.

Officers formed lines to try to contain the crowd as residents set fire to trash cans, taunted police and swarmed a Starbucks, breaking windows. At one point, police shut down a gas station when protesters were seen filling canisters with gas. At least two people were arrested, police Sgt. Bob Dunn said.

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Police Chief John Welter said Diaz was shot after two officers approached three men who were acting suspiciously in an alley before running away. One officer chased Diaz to the front of an apartment complex.

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Anaheim is a city of contrasts that ranges from upscale, hilltop homes to packed, gritty apartment complexes.

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As California’s Hispanic population has grown, so has the Anaheim’s, hitting nearly 53 percent in 2010, census figures show.

Residents’ concerns about the use of police force in the city aren’t new. Last month, Anaheim decided to look into hiring an independent investigator to review police shootings amid protests by relatives of those killed in officers’ gunfire.

Latino activists say that isn’t enough and want federal officials to investigate the Saturday shooting.

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The police union issued a statement defending the officers involved in the shootings and said both men killed were gang members who had criminal records. The union also said that just before Diaz turned toward officers, he pulled an object from his waistband — a common place where gang members hide guns.

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The protest Tuesday capped four consecutive days of violence aimed at police officers and unrest. On Saturday, demonstrators hurled rocks and bottles at officers who were securing the scene for investigators, and police responded by firing bean bags and pepper balls.

On Sunday, protesters swarmed police headquarters during a news conference and later set fire to a trash bin and pushed it into the street outside the apartment complex where Manuel Diaz died. On Monday night, his mother joined the relatives of others killed in police shootings in a march near where her son was shot.

The second shooting occurred Sunday when officers spotted a suspected gang member in a stolen sport utility vehicle. A brief pursuit ended when three people jumped from the vehicle and ran. Joel Mathew Acevedo, 21, fired at an officer and the officer fatally shot him, authorities said.

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