Protesters Storm Anaheim California Police Headquarters After Officers Shot And Killed Unarmed Man

July 23, 2012

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA — Demonstrators stormed a police department in Orange County, Calif., on Sunday to protest an officer-involved shooting that left an unarmed man dead and led to a violent clash between witnesses and police.

A crowd swarmed the Anaheim Police headquarters’ lobby Sunday as Chief John Welter held a news conference to discuss what happened the night before. The protesters chanted “no justice, no peace” and “cops, pigs, murderers” as officers stood by and watched.

Welter said two officers were placed on paid leave after one of them fatally shot 24-year-old Manuel Diaz.

He said the officers approached three men in an alleyway when they ran away. One of the officers chased Diaz to the front of an apartment complex where the shooting occurred.

Welter would not say what led the officer to shoot Diaz, citing an independent investigation by the county’s district attorney office. Police said Diaz was a known gang member.

Mayor Tom Tait said he will ask the state attorney general to assist in the probe.

“Transparency is essential. Whatever the truth is, we will own it,” Tait said.

The shooting sparked a melee in the neighborhood as some threw rocks and bottles at officers who were securing the scene for investigators to collect evidence. Sgt. Bob Dunn, the department’s spokesman, said that as officers detained an instigator, the crowd advanced on officers so they fired bean bags and pepper balls at them.

Video captured by a KCAL-TV crew showed a chaotic scene as some people ducked to the ground and others scattered screaming. A man is seen yelling at an officer even as a weapon is pointed at him; two adults huddled to shield a boy and girl. Meanwhile, a police dog charged at several people sitting on the grass, including a woman and a child in a stroller, before biting a man in the arm.

Dunn said the dog accidentally got out of a patrol car. He said he didn’t know whether police warned the crowd to disperse before firing the rubber bullets and pepper balls.

Throughout the night, police in multiple marked and unmarked squad cars attempted to control an unruly crowd gathered near the shooting scene, the Orange County Register reported.

Some in the crowd moved a Dumpster into an intersection and set its trash on fire on at least three separate occasions, while officers kept responding to move it out of the way of traffic.

Dunn said five people, two of them juveniles, were arrested during the unrest. He said gang detectives are involved in the investigation.

Crystal Ventura, a 17-year-old who witnessed the shooting, told the Register that the man had his back to the officer. Ventura said the man was shot in the buttocks area. The man then went down on his knees, she said, adding that he was struck by another bullet in the head. Ventura said another officer handcuffed the man, who by then was on the ground and not moving.

“They searched his pockets, and there was a hole in his head, and I saw blood on his face,” Ventura told the newspaper.

Dunn said he could not comment on these allegations because the shooting is under investigation.

The other two men who ran away have not been captured, but police impounded their vehicle which was abandoned at the scene, Dunn said.

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Victim’s Family Awarded $2 Million By Federal Court After California Highway Patrol Officers Shot And Killed Unarmed Driver

May 23, 2012

CALIFORNIA – A Sacramento federal judge has ordered damages of more than $2 million assessed against two California Highway Patrol officers, the agency itself, and the state in the death of a 21-year-old Stockton man.

In a four-page order and judgment Monday, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller said she interprets a somewhat ambiguous jury verdict in January to reflect the panel’s intention to assess economic damages of $6,000 and non-economic damages of $1 million against each of the officers, Michael Walling and Stephen Coffman, for shooting to death Joseph Pinasco Jr.

She also ruled that the CHP and the state are jointly liable for the $2,012,000 in judgments against Walling and Coffman.

In court papers and oral arguments since the verdict, the two sides differed on how to decipher the trial’s outcome, and Mueller sided with Arnold Wolf, attorney for Pinasco’s parents, Joseph and Toni Pinasco, who sued over their son’s death.

The parents own a Stockton plumbing and heating company.

Attorneys for the defendants argued the award should be reduced based on a comparative-fault analysis, in which the young man presumably would be found partially to blame.

But Mueller said, “A fair reading of the verdict is that the jury based its wrongful death determination on the officers’ wrongful acts. Accordingly, principles of comparative fault are inapplicable.”

The state is expected to appeal.

Walling and Coffman are still CHP officers, and Walling was promoted to sergeant after the incident.

They responded in the early hours of Aug. 24, 2008, to reports of street racing. Pinasco, who had been drinking with friends that night, was sitting in a parked pickup in the vicinity of the purported racing. As the officers approached in their car, he pulled away and led them on a high-speed chase. The pickup spun out of control on a dirt road and got stuck in a ditch in a rural area of eastern San Joaquin County.

Walling and Coffman exited their car and drew their guns. Pinasco was still seated behind the steering wheel of the truck and, as Walling approached, he started accelerating and rocking the pickup in an attempt to escape the ditch.

The officers yelled commands for Pinasco to stop and show his hands and Walling banged on the pickup’s windshield with his flashlight, but the truck continued to rock and the officers perceived it was getting traction in Coffman’s direction.

Both officers fired their weapons at Pinasco. They did so, they say, based on a shared fear that Coffman would be seriously injured or killed.

In one of the few differences on the facts, Wolf claims in court papers that the truck was traveling away from the officers as Pinasco began to extricate it from the ditch. It traveled 19 feet before coming to rest against a fence.

Of the 23 shots fired by the officers, six hit Pinasco in the head, face and neck, and one hit his left thigh. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His blood-alcohol level was measured at nearly three times the legal limit for driving.

In early 2009, the CHP’s investigative services unit issued a report concluding the shooting was justified because the pickup was moving toward Coffman. In April 2009, the San Joaquin County district attorney issued a report with the same finding.

According to Wolf’s trial brief, “Neither report bears any resemblance to (another unit of the CHP’s) reconstruction of the pickup truck’s movement before and during the shooting,” or to the state Department of Justice’s analysis of the bullets’ trajectory, “neither of which suggested that the pickup’s movement ever jeopardized Coffman.”

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Murder: Video Shows Fullerton California Police Officers Manuel Ramos, Jay Patrick Cicinelli And At Least 4 Others Brutally Beating Unarmed Homeless Man While He Screamed In Pain And Plead For Help – Died 5 Days Latter

May 8, 2012

FULLERTON, CALIFORNIA – A graphic video played at a hearing Monday to determine whether two California police officers should stand trial in the beating death of a homeless man showed them kicking and punching the mentally ill man as he lay on the ground — screaming in pain and begging for help.

The victim, Kelly Thomas, died five days after the beating on July 5.

Manuel Ramos, a 10-year veteran of the Fullerton, California, police department, is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, while Cpl. Jay Patrick Cicinelli faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and felony use of excessive force in the same case.

Both have pleaded not guilty.

The black-and-white video was played during a preliminary hearing for the two officers.

It begins with Thomas — a 37-year-old homeless man with schizophrenia — sitting and being told by Ramos to put his feet out and hands on his knees.

The officers were responding to a call about a homeless man looking into car windows and pulling on handles of parked cars.

In the video, Thomas is slow to cooperate.

Ramos then tells him: “You see my fists? They’re getting ready to f— you up.”

Thomas, who is unarmed and shirtless, stands and another officer walks over. They hit him with their batons and hold him on the ground as he begs for help.

“Ok, I’m sorry, dude. I’m sorry!” he screams. At one point, Thomas says he can’t breathe. The officers tell him to lie on his stomach, put his hands behind his back and relax.

“Ok, here, here, dude, please!” he says.

Other officers arrive.

At times, trees block the view of the camera and it’s not always clear who is doing what as officers pile on top of Thomas.

One uses a Taser stun gun.

Thomas cries out for help and. toward the end of the beating, for his father: “Dad! Help me. Help me. Help me, dad.”

His voice gets softer and trails off.

By the end of the video, he is lying in a pool of blood as the officers wonder out loud what to do next.

One can be heard saying: “We ran out of options so I got to the end of my Taser and I … smashed his face to hell.”

Thomas suffered brain injuries, facial fractures, rib fractures, and extensive bruising and abrasions, according to prosecutors.

The Orange County coroner listed his manner of death as a homicide and said he died after having his chest compressed, leaving him unable to breathe.

The FBI is investigating possible civil rights violations in his case.

Six Fullerton officers, including Ramos and Cicinelli, were put on paid leave after his death. The case drew widespread attention to the police department of Fullerton, located about 25 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

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90 Shots Fired By Los Angeles California Police Officers At Unarmed Motorist

April 12, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Eight Los Angeles police officers fired more than 90 rounds at an unarmed 19-year-old man who had led them on a high speed freeway pursuit and called 911 to threaten them with a gun, authorities said.

The shooting played out on live television after Abdul Arian refused to pull over when police tried to stop him for erratic driving. He led police on a chase onto the 101 Freeway, where he stopped in dramatic fashion — turning his car and stopping across eastbound lanes.

He jumped out of the car and ran. Then he turned and appeared to run backwards. Police said he assumed a “shooting stance” and appeared to raise his arms and appear to point a weapon, prompting them to open fire.

No gun was found at the scene, but police released statements Arian made to a 911 dispatcher in which he claims he has a weapon and makes it clear that he’s not afraid to use it.

“I have a gun,” Arian said.

“I’ve been arrested before for possession of destructive devices; I’m not afraid of the cops.”

He also said: “If they pull their guns, I’m going to have to pull my gun out on them.”

According to a news release, the dispatcher pleaded with Arian to surrender peacefully, saying, “I don’t want you to hurt yourself.”

Arian responded with expletives and a threat: “… these police, they’re going to get hurt.”

The department’s force investigation division kept the freeway closed all night as they collected evidence and conducted interviews. Department officials will review several factors related to the incident, including communication tactics and whether the large number of rounds fired endangered other freeway motorists.

No breakdowns were available about how many shots each officer fired.

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Trigger Happy Scottsdale Arizona Police Officer Shoots And Kills Unarmed Man Holding A Baby Outside His Home

February 17, 2012

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA — An Arizona man was shot to death by police Tuesday while holding his grandson.

Police say 50-year-old John Loxas was holding his grandchild in his arms as he walked around his Scottsdale neighborhood Tuesday night threatening neighbors and police.

“There were at least three officers in position to engage the suspect. At least one of the officers thought he saw something in the suspect’s hands,” said Sgt. Mark Clark.

Loxas was standing outside of his home with his grandchild still in his arms when Officer James Peters fired one shot to the head, killing the suspect.

Police say the 9-month-old boy was not injured during the shooting.

Officers also escaped unharmed.

Some neighbors are now questioning the officers actions.

Investigators say the officers on the scene thought Loxas was holding a gun.

Detectives did not find a weapon on Loxas following the shooting, but did locate several firearms inside the home.

Officer Peters, who fired the fatal shot, has been involved in seven shootings over the past decade.
Six of those have been fatal, and all have been ruled justified.

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