reports from Anaheim, Calif., on a horrific police murder—and the angry resistance that this latest killing produced among Latino residents.
WHAT SHOULD have been a relaxing Saturday afternoon for the residents of an East Side apartment complex in Anaheim, Calif., instead turned into a nightmare on July 21.
Neighbors watched in horror as Anaheim police first shot Manuel Diaz in the back of his leg—and then executed him with a bullet to the head in their courtyard around 4 p.m.
But the Anaheim Police Department didn’t stop with the murder of Diaz. They proceeded to terrorize residents who gathered to confront the cops about the murder they had just witnessed, bringing out protest signs and setting fire to a dumpster. Police responded by opening fire with rubber bullets and tear gas at a crowed that included young children.
Video footage of the police assault shocked people around the world and prompted continuing protests in Anaheim, including several reported occupations of police stations.
Then, in the early morning hours of Monday, July 23, the Anaheim cops killed again a few miles away—shooting a man they claimed had stolen an SUV. A police spokesman said someone in the stolen vehicle shot at officers, who returned fire—but the resident of an apartment next to where the killing took place said she heard five consecutive gunshots, not an exchange of gunfire.
There were plenty of witnesses to the cops’ earlier murder—it took place in broad daylight on July 21 as residents of the apartment complex were out on the lawn. A video posted on the OC Weekly website shows the cops shooting Manuel Diaz in the head and then preventing anyone from helping him.
“He was already down on the ground and clearly not going anywhere when the officer shot him in the head,” an eyewitness said in an interview the next day. “They didn’t have to kill him. Why couldn’t they have just used a Taser or something?” Another witness to the police killing said it took 45 minutes to get an ambulance to the scene, and nobody was rushing to get the victim medical attention even after the ambulance arrived. Diaz died at a hospital later that evening.
Mari, a young woman from the neighborhood, said she, like other residents, knew Diaz well. “He was a really, really good guy,” she said. “He was friendly and would say hi to everyone. I often saw him picking up trash, keeping things clean. He didn’t have a home, so he stayed in a bunch of different apartments around here. Everyone liked him.”
As the police presence at the apartment complex continued, more and more residents showed up to protest the murder. The cops claim the crowd started throwing rocks and bottles at them. Police moved against the protesters, firing pepper spray and rubber bullets.
Shocking video of the police attack, aired on KCAL News, not only shows police officers opening fire on the unsuspecting crowd, but an officer releasing a police dog on a young woman, Susan Lopez, and her one-month old baby. After biting at Lopez’s arm, the dog lunges for another young man and his child as the child’s stroller goes flying. The man holds up his arm to protect his young child, and you can see the dog bite him as people try to restrain it.