The altercation on a tidy, suburban street in Anaheim, Ca., began with a common complaint: a group of teenagers walking through a neighbor’s yard on their way home from school. The seemingly mundane dispute spun out of control this week, when authorities say an off-duty Los Angeles police officer confronted the group. Other teenagers pulled out their cameras, filming the officer as he held a 13-year-old boy by the collar of his sweatshirt, trying to detain him, the Los Angeles Times reports. The situation escalated from there. At one point, another teen rushed the officer, sending him tumbling over a line of bushes. The officer then reached into his jeans and drew a gun, firing a single shot. No one was hurt, but footage of the encounter stirred uproar across the country, prompting criticism of the off-duty cop’s actions and questions over why investigators arrested two teenagers — but not the officer — at the scene.
As the video went viral, 300 protesters took to the streets to protest the shooting. Police broke up the demonstration and arrested 23 people, but not before some vandalized the officer’s home. The tension in Orange County’s largest city comes after several incidents in which Latino activists have protested police shootings that they felt unfairly targeted the city’s large Latino community. Many involved in Tuesday’s incident appeared to be Latino, and the officer appears to be white. “Like many, I am deeply disturbed and frankly angered,” said Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait. “The video shows an adult wrestling with a 13-year-old kid and ultimately firing a gun. … It should never have happened.” Anaheim police are investigating the altercation, while the Los Angeles Police Department and Inspector General are conducting internal investigations into the officer’s actions.