Video shows off-duty California cop fire weapon in struggle with 13-year-old

Posted at 7:48 PM, Feb 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-22 19:48:00-05

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Cellphone video captured a physical struggle between an off-duty police officer and a 13-year-old boy in Anaheim, California, that led to the officer firing his weapon and the teen being placed in police custody.

Cellphone video recorded by a witness shows an altercation between an off-duty LAPD officer, right, and teens in Anaheim on Feb. 22, 2017.

The incident happened around 2:40 p.m. Tuesday near the Loara High School in Anaheim, according to the Anaheim Police Department.

Anaheim police said that they were called to the scene where an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer had discharged his firearm and was detaining a 13-year-old.

"The confrontation began over ongoing issues with juveniles walking across the officer's property," Anaheim police said in an updated statement issued Wednesday, after cellphone video of the altercation was posted on YouTube.

The boy "is alleged to have threatened to shoot the off-duty officer," Anaheim police said. That account is disputed in the video by the boy himself and by the boy's parents.

No one was struck by the gunfire, and the officer admitted firing the weapon, police said.

The officer was not arrested, but the 13-year-old boy and another 15-year-old boy were.

KTLA published a story about the incident Tuesday night, prompting the father of the 13-year-old to contact the station with the family’s side of the story.

The boy’s mother, who did not want to be identified, went to visit her son at the Theo Lacy detention facility in Orange Wednesday. She came outside with her son, who had been released, saying she was told the Orange County District Attorney's Office had rejected charges.

“I still fear for our lives, for him living right down the street from us,” she said, tearing up. “Him being an officer.”

The DA's office would not confirm if charges were rejected; a spokeswoman said the office cannot comment on juvenile cases.

An LAPD spokesman initially said the department wasn’t commenting on the incident, but Capt. Andy Neiman said the department will release a statement later Wednesday.

Anaheim police said LAPD is conducting a “concurrent/administrative investigation.”

The father supplied a link to a nearly nine-minute YouTube video of the confrontation in which the teen can be heard making claims that the officer got upset with a girl who was walking on his lawn, and the boy came to the girl’s defense, prompting the confrontation.

The cellphone video shows a boy and the off-duty officer physically struggling with each other on the sidewalk in a residential area. More than a dozen people, mostly apparent teens, are present.

The bald LAPD officer wears a plaid shirt and sunglasses. He appears to be grabbing the front of the boy’s black hoodie as several of the gathered teens say “Let him go.”

An older man with a long beard and a crutch says “Hey, Kevin,” at one point, apparently addressing the officer. Later in the video, the man apparently calls 911 to report the gunfire, saying the off-duty officer is his son.

In the video, as the sweatshirt-wearing teen and the off-duty officer struggle, the teen seems to taunt the officer, saying, “He tried to hit me in my nuts."

The audio is difficult to understand, but the officer appears to say, “Because you’ve been resisting this whole time.”

“No, I wasn’t. You tackled me first. I didn’t do anything to hurt you,” the teen says. “All I said was, ‘Respect the girl,’ because you said, ‘Get out of my property.’”

The officer responds that the teen had said he was going to shoot him, and the teen denies that, saying, “I didn’t say that. Why you lying? I said, 'I’m going to sue you.'”

Then the pair tell each other to “get your hands off me.”

“I’m only like 13,” the teen says.

After a couple minutes, a young man comes up to the struggling pair, apparently trying to separate them. Then another boy with a red backpack runs into the threesome, pushing the officer into and over a low hedge. At that moment, the teen who tried to separate the officer and the 13-year-old appeared to strike the officer in the head area.

In a matter of seconds, the officer, with one hand still on the 13-year-old, reaches into his waistband and pulls out a handgun.

The person recording the video backs away, and the view of the confrontation is temporarily blocked.

A single gunshot is heard.

The officer can be seen pulling the teen over the hedge as the person recording and other witnesses run away from the scene. Kneeling over the teen, the officer appears to tell the older man with the crutch to call 911.

The teen then gets up and says, “You shot me, you put a gun to my face.”

The older man can be heard saying into a cellphone, “My son shot his gun because they’ve got about 15 people.”

The young witnesses can be heard heckling the officer and the older man, disputing what the older man is saying on the phone. A helicopter arrives overhead, drowning out the audio.

About five minutes into the video, a police patrol car pulls up and the off-duty officer can be heard yelling to the arriving Anaheim officers. The two Anaheim officers approach the pair. One officer appears to put handcuffs on the teen, while the LAPD officer, hands up, is walked across a driveway by another officer.

The Anaheim officer appears to take the handgun of the LAPD officer’s back pocket or waistband. Then the LAPD officer and the Anaheim officer can be seen conversing in a neighboring home’s front yard.

Meanwhile, a handful of teens are sitting on the curb next to the Anaheim officers’ car. More police arrive and the video soon ends.

Anaheim police said the 13-year-old was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats and battery, and the 15-year-old on suspicion of assault and battery. The older teen was released to his parents, Anaheim police said Wednesday.

The LAPD officer, who has not been identified, is cooperating with the Anaheim homicide detail investigation, according to the Anaheim police news release.

Standing with his mom outside the jail facility Wednesday, the 13-year-old again said the incident started with the off-duty officer yelling at one girl.

"I said, 'Hey, that's not how you treat a lady,'" the boy  said. "And then he came at me. ... He hit me. I ran to the street to run away from him, and he got me. He tried to trip me and then he kicked me in my testicles."

The boy again said he told the officer he was going to "sue him," not "shoot" him.

The video of the altercation and gunfire has more than 18,000 views on YouTube as of midday Wednesday.

In an email Wednesday, Anaheim police Sgt. Daron Wyatt said: "We are aware of numerous videos being posted on YouTube and other internet sites. We cannot authenticate the validity of these videos as they were not recorded or posted by APD. However, they do appear to depict portions of the incident in question."