Several officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department were captured in a video pointing their guns at three African-American teenagers who were reportedly being threatened by a homeless man. Instead of helping the three teenagers, police detained two of the Black teens who where were actually victims of assault. The video of the incident has since gone viral, compelling the police department to launch an investigation.
The news comes at a time when the United States is witnessing mass demonstrations across states calling for the end of police brutality especially against the black. This has seen many states going for police reforms, including President Trump signing an executive order to ban police chokeholds.
Victim not Suspects
The incident, which happened in Santa Clarita, California, last Friday, was filmed by several bystanders. From the video, it appears that the deputies mistook the unarmed teens as the aggressors and held them at gunpoint. However, many bystanders tried to tell the deputies that the boys were actually the victims and not suspects.
Tammi Collins, the mother of one of the teenagers in the video, shared an 11-minute clip on her Instagram page, showing officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department pointing guns at the three teenagers who are in no mood to listen to them. Collins said that her son and two other boys were attacked by a homeless man with a knife.
The boys defended themselves with a skateboard but got frightened after a while. The deputies received a 911 call and responded to the scene. However, instead of tracing the suspect, they held the boys at gunpoint. One of the cops is seen in the video pointing a handgun at the boys as they stood with their hands up. Two minutes later, one of the teenagers could be seen on his knees being handcuffed by an officer, while his colleague pointing a handgun at the back of his head.
A woman, who identifies herself as the manager of the nearby Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, is seen trying to tell the deputies that the boys were the victims and that she made the 911 call.
The sheriff's department said that it has yet been unable to locate the homeless man, who they described as a "possible victim." Collins, however, feels that her son and the two other teenagers were victims of police atrocities. "This is how the police responded," wrote the mother. "This is something my son and his friends will never forget. I'm still wonder how will I ever help my son recover from this traumatic experience."
The incident has drawn widespread criticism including within the department. Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth said that an investigation has been launched into the incident. "The City of Santa Clarita is aware of the incident which took place this past Friday involving Santa Clarita Sheriff's deputies detaining two people at gunpoint, and we are very concerned," said Smyth in a statement.
Also, Sheriff Alex Villanueva has shown his concern about the way cops handled the situation. "I've seen the recent video involving the Santa Clarita incident, which has gone viral, and I have concerns regarding the tactics employed," said Villanueva in a video statement.
The United States has been witnessing mass demonstrations with protesters calling for the end of police brutality against the Black, following the death of George Floyd, who died in a police chokehold when one of the former officers in Minneapolis knelt on him for over nine minutes. This has seen several states finally going for police reforms including Trump signing an executive order banning chokeholds and making bad cops accountable for their conduct.