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Police Shootings Spark Outrage

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Police Shootings Spark Outrage

Posted on July 24, 2012 | Written By: iadminlaw

Police shootings have increased in Anaheim and residents are outraged. The city has had five fatal police shootings this year. Two officers have been placed on administrative leave, and the mayor has asked for an independent investigation.

A recent uptick in officer-involved shootings in Anaheim has prompted outrage from residents concerned about police conduct.

Anaheim map in Orange County

Anaheim map in Orange County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The latest — which resulted in the death of a man Sunday night — was the city’s fifth fatal police shooting this year. Last year, there were four officer-involved shootings, compared with six so far this year.

The man killed Sunday was identified as Joel Mathew Acevedo, 21, of Anaheim. Authorities say the shooting occurred after police in an unmarked car tried to pull over a vehicle and a chase ensued. The driver lost control and crashed. Two men and a woman fled on foot and Acevedo fired at officers, who returned fire and killed him.

That shooting came the same weekend that Manuel Angel Diaz, 25, was shot to death by an officer in an East Anaheim neighborhood. Authorities said Diaz was shot Saturday in the 700 block of North Anna Drive after running from police, but they did not reveal what led to the shooting. The incident prompted protests from residents, who threw bottles and rocks at police.

Two officers have been placed on administrative leave, and Mayor Tom Tait on Monday asked for an independent probe by the state attorney general and the U.S. attorney’s office.

Still, tensions remained high in Diaz’s neighborhood. Many are critical of officers’ conduct right after the shooting, when police used pepper balls to disperse an angry crowd of about 100. In addition, a police dog was accidentally released into the group.

A makeshift memorial marks the site where Diaz was shot, with dozens of candles, flowers and signs — most of which are critical of police.

Teresa Maldonado sat on the back of a truck where her mother was selling snacks. She said everyone in the neighborhood knew Diaz as “Stomper.” He liked to play with her 1-year-old brother.

Ricardo Hurtado, 21, said the gunshots prompted him to come outside his home Saturday. He said he saw Diaz handcuffed on the ground, his hands still shaking.

A video of the moments after the shooting was posted on the OC Weekly’s website. Tensions continued to run high throughout the weekend, with residents setting fire to dumpsters Sunday evening as well.

Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said his department was “very concerned” about the increase in fatal officer-involved shootings and the outrage that has surrounded the two most recent ones. But, he added, “I’m not going to let people continue to escalate this violence to the point where the general public is going to be threatened.”

Welter urged the public to let the investigative process “run its course.”

In addition to the city’s probe, the Orange County district attorney’s office will investigate the shootings along with the Office of Independent Review.

Welter said both men shot over the weekend were “documented gang members,” but the incidents aren’t believed to be related.

Joanne Sosa, a community activist with the Take Back Anaheim initiative, said she is planning a rally Tuesday at Anaheim City Hall.

Seferino Garcia, executive director of Solevar, an Anaheim community group, said the recent unrest reflects long-standing tensions in the city.

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