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Crowd protests officer-involved shootings outside Anaheim City Hall

A man is handcuffed by police officers during a protest that turned violent on Tuesday, July 24, 2012, over two recent fatal shootings by police in Anaheim
July 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A protest Tuesday over two recent officer-involved shootings in Anaheim turned violent as large crowds clashed with police in riot gear outside City Hall.

More than 100 people arrived at City Hall where the City Council was to discuss the weekend killings by officers. Residents question what made officers resort to deadly force and later crack down on demonstrators by firing pepper-spray projectiles and bean bag rounds. Dozens of people were turned away from the City Council meeting and the unrest escalated.

Anaheim Boulevard was closed in both directions at City Hall by the protest.

More than 100 police officers from Anaheim, Fullerton, Westminster, Brea, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach and Orange departments were on scene. At least five people were arrested, officials said.

There was a report that a Molotov cocktail was thrown at an officer at Elm near Anaheim Blvd.

An Arco gas station on Broadway was closed because crowd was gathering there amid reports that protesters were filling bottles with gas. People have been pushed out of the area and officers surrounded the gas station.

The angry crowd was so large, police had to block the entrance to the building. Inside, city officials agreed to ask the U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate the shootings.

Tuesday's gathering marked the third straight day of demonstrations in Anaheim since the shooting of Manuel Diaz.

Diaz's family is filing a $50-million claim against the city and the Anaheim Police Department.

The first of two weekend shootings happened Saturday along the 700 block of North Anna Drive. The second happened Sunday night along the 400 block of West Guinida Lane.

Manuel Diaz, 25, was shot and killed by Anaheim police officers Saturday afternoon. Police confirm Diaz was unarmed. Authorities allege Diaz was a documented gang member. He and two others started running as police on routine patrol ordered them to stop. Diaz was allegedly seen throwing unidentified items as police chased him. Shortly after, shots were fired.

"What precipitated the shooting, what caused that shooting is still under investigation. That is with the D.A.'s office now," said Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn.

The shooting sparked a near riot Saturday night as some people set fire to trash bins. Police used non-lethal rounds and pepper-spray, injuring some in the crowd. Police say it was in response to some known gang members who were throwing rocks and bottles at officers. Five people were arrested. Police say at least one person was bitten by a police dog after it jumped out of a patrol car, which police said was an accident.

The next day dozens crammed into the lobby of the Anaheim Police Department. Protesters were upset with police after several officer-involved shootings this past year.

The most recent was Sunday night at the end of a pursuit of a stolen vehicle. Police say officers were chasing a known gang member after he took off running. The suspect allegedly shot at officers. They fired back, hitting and killing him. A gun was found next to the suspect's body.

As police increase patrols, they're also dealing with complaints after a turbulent weekend.

Police are pledging transparency in both investigations of the shootings. The Anaheim city manager says a fourth layer of transparency will be added to the investigation. They will ask an independent agency to investigate both shootings.

"Each one of these incidents is evaluated by three different entities, we have an internal process that takes place when an officer-involved shooting occurs, whether it's fatal or not, and they look at our training, our tactics, our policies, procedures, anything we could have done better," said Dunn.

"I'm asking the state attorney general's office and the federal U.S. attorney's office for assistance with a full and independent investigation of the entire situation," said Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait.

The Orange County District Attorney's Office is asking for any witnesses that might have cellphone video, audio, or still photos of Saturday's officer-involved shooting to contact the OCDA Special Investigations Hotline at (714) 347-8544.

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