Officers in Anaheim, California resorted to brutal force on Saturday to quell a near-riot of enraged, bottle-throwing citizens reacting to the fatal police shooting of a fleeing suspect.
Officers fired rubber-coated steel bullets and beanbag rounds from shotguns into the crowd of women and children, hitting at least one small child. They also sicced police dogs on the protesters, including a woman and her baby.
ABC 7 reports that the trouble began after Anaheim police shot and killed a pursuit suspect while chasing three men down an alley around 4:00 p.m. An officer shot one of the suspects, 24-year-ild Manuel Diaz, in the buttocks. Diaz fell to his knees and was then struck in the head by another police bullet.
CBS Los Angeles reports that another officer then handcuffed Diaz, who was not moving, and searched his pockets before handcuffing his motionless body and rushing him to a local hospital. The Raw Story reports that he died three hours later.
Residents, who have long complained about police violence, were enraged by the Diaz shooting. They set fire to a dumpster and blocked off a street, and as police attempted to investigate the shooting, some people threw bottles at them.
Officers responded by deploying pepper spray and shooting rubber-coated steel bullets into the crowd, despite the presence of women and children.
“They just started shooting,” one witness told CBS Los Angeles.
“They just shot at us, and they shot at a little kid, too,” another woman shouted.
A dog from a police K-9 unit was also unleashed on a woman holding her baby. Multiple dog bite victims were reported.
“They just released the dog and I had my baby in the stroller,” the woman, Susan Lopez, told CBS Los Angeles. “The dog just grabbed me with his teeth.”
Anaheim Police Chief John Walter claimed the dog accidentally escaped from a police vehicle.
“We are extremely sorry for the people who were bit,” Welter said. “The city will be responsible for all medical bills associated with the dog. The canine officer responsible for the dog is devastated by this.”
The firing of rubber-coated steel bullets and beanbag rounds at women and children could not be said to have been accidental.
Yesenia Rojas showed an ABC 7 reporter the red welts all over her body she says are the result of being shot multiple times by officers using rubber-coated steel bullets as she shielded her children.
“Is Anaheim police really protecting our communities?” Rojas asked ABC 7. “They’re not protecting our communities. They’re killing our kids.”
Joel Hunt Jr. of neighboring Fullerton, where officers brutally beat to death Kelly Thomas, an unarmed homeless schizophrenic last year, described the chaotic scene.
“Anaheim PD opened fire into a crowd of women and children and released the K-9 dogs. There were rubber bullets, women got hit, men got hit, babies got knocked over by dogs, kids got bit by dogs,” he told ABC 7.
Four people who shot cell phone footage of the brutality told a CBS Los Angeles reporter that officers offered to buy their phones “without any explanation.”
The two suspects that were fleeing with Diaz got away.
On Sunday, protesters stormed Anaheim police headquarters during a press conference held by Chief Welter, demanding justice for Manuel Diaz and those brutalized by officers during the previous day’s demonstration.
“No justice, no peace,” many shouted. “Justice for Manuel” was another common chant.
Welter announced that two officers have been placed on administrative leave following the fatal shooting. He did not say what triggered the deadly incident.