Angie Crouch & Troy McLaurin
Demonstrators took to the streets of Anaheim Tuesday night to protest two recent fatal-officer involved shootings. The protests became violent when the crowd took their message into city streets, throwing rocks, bricks and traffic cones at officers and squad cars. Police used beanbags and pepper balls to subdue the crowd. Angie Crouch reports from Anaheim for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on July 24, 2012.
Protesters rallied in the streets of Anaheim for several hours Tuesday night in the latest and most confrontational demonstration against recent fatal officer-involved shootings in the southern California city.
A disperal order was issued at about 9 p.m. to hundreds of demonstrators that began gathering outside Anaheim City Hall around 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, police said. Within minutes, 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.
The majority of the crowd had dispersed by 11 p.m., but a small contingent remained in the street. Anaheim Boulevard was reopened with a heavy police presence.
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 how the fires started.
At least one person was transported to the hospital after being shot in the head with a pepperball, said Sgt. Bob Dunn with Anaheim police. No officers were injured.
At least five people were confirmed 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, Dunn said. No weapons were found.
Police continued to take demonstrators into custody as of 11:30 p.m., according to aerial footage.
Tensions escalated for hours throughout the city where several bank and coffee shop windows were smashed with rocks.
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 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 near City Hall 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.