At Least One Arrested After Anaheim Police Protest Swells Into Streets

Demonstrators gathered at the Anaheim City Council meeting Tuesday to rally against a recent spate of fatal police shootings

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Shortly after 9 p.m., a disperal order was issued to a group of demonstrators that began gathering outside Anaheim City Hall around 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon to rally against recent fatal officer-involved shootings, police said.

    Officers used pepper balls and bean bags to subdue the crowd, which continued to demonstrate late into the evening. A group of protesters could be seen fleeing from the intersection of Anaheim Boulevard and Broadway after officers reportedly shot pepper balls at their feet, police said.

    Several fires broke out near the scene of the protest -- one in a trash bin, another near a bus bench, according to aerial footage. It was not immediately clear if the fires were related to the protest or how they started.

    At least one person was transported to the hospital after being shot in the head with a pepperball and five people were arrested in the skirmish, including one man who was booked for resisting arrest after officers received a call that he may have a gun in his waistband, said Sgt. Bob Dunn with Anaheim police. No weapons were found.

    Law enforcement was on high alert as the protest turned violent, with demonstrators throwing rocks, bricks and traffic cones at officers and squad cars, Dunn said, adding that at least one person -- a print reporter -- appeared to be injured in the melee, possibly struck with a rock.

    Tuesday's demonstration was the latest sparked by a recent spate of fatal police shootings. Crowds started gathering around 4 p.m. to urge councilmembers to investigate those shootings and reform the city's police force, which residents have accused of racial profiling.

    The council chamber reached capacity and police in riot gear blocked access to the meeting.

    The demonstration swelled into the streets at about 6:30 p.m. While the protest escalated outside, the Anaheim City Council continued to meet.

    Law enforcement from several surrounding cities descended on the area to provide mutual aid, police said.

    Skirmish lines established by officers in riot gear attempted to corral demonstrators near the 200 block of South Anaheim Boulveard.

    Within an hour, much of the police presence had dissipated from the area immediately around City Hall and the crowd moved -- some on foot, others on bicycles -- down Anaheim Boulevard waving flags, carrying signs and speaking into passing cars.

    As of 8:30 p.m., a crowd continued to mill about around City Hall and a separate group appeared to gather near the scene of one of the deadly shootings, setting up a candlelight vigil, according to aerial footage.

    By 9 p.m., officers in riot gear again stepped up patrols near Broadway and Anaheim Boulevard in what appeared to be preparation for their dispersal order.

    Officials say there have been eight officer-involved shootings in the city this year, including two fatal incidents during the weekend.

    Manuel Angel Diaz, 25, was shot and killed Saturday after a foot pursuit through an alley in the 700 block of North Anna Drive -- an area where police say they've noticed an increase in gang and narcotics crimes.

    That shooting sparked protests during the weekend, including one on Saturday in which a trash bin was set on fire and a small group of people threw rocks and bottles at police. Three people were detained, officials said.

    On Sunday night, Anaheim officers shot and a killed a man following a pursuit that ended near West Guinida Lane and Iris Street when two men and woman fled from a sport utility vehicle. Police said one of the men pulled out a gun and officers opened fire.

    Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait called for a state and federal probe of the fatal shootings during a news conference Sunday, at which some 70 protesters stormed the lobby.

    "Transparency is essential," Tait said Sunday. "The investigation will seek the truth. And whatever the truth is, we will own it."

    At least four agencies are involved in or are expected to join the investigation, including the U.S. Attorney's office, the State Attorney General, the Anaheim Police Department's Officer of Internal Affairs and -- as is usual for officer-involved shootings -- the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

    Officials said the Anaheim Police Department stepped up patrols in advance of Tuesday's demonstration -- the latest in a city that has been dotted with protests for days.

    Anaheim was among six California cities with a population over 100,000 that saw the biggest spikes in violent crime in 2011, according to an analysis of FBI crime data released last month.