The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is investigating after its personnel detained a group of teens last week even though several bystanders told the deputies the boys were the victims.
The incident occurred on Aug. 7 at a bus stop in Santa Clarita, California, reported the Los Angeles Times. Robert Brown, a lawyer representing the boys’ families, told the L.A. Times the homeless man asked them for crack while they were waiting for the bus. When the teens told him to leave them alone, he pulled a knife and thrust it at them. They used skateboards to defend themselves.
The police were called by several people who saw the boys being harassed. However, according to TMZ, one caller claimed, “two black guys were attacking a homeless man.”
While the deputies were detaining the teens, several bystanders told them repeatedly the teens were innocent and the actual assailant had fled the scene, the video shows.
“This is crazy! It was the other guy,” one person said.
“They don’t care ‘cause they Black,” another witness stated. “They don’t give a f-k.”
Witnesses also told the boys to keep their hands up and not answer any questions. One woman noted they were not resisting.
One of the callers, the manager of a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, tried to reason with the deputies.
“I’m the one who called you,” she told them. “It was not them.”
“I told your sergeant who was the problem and what was going on,” she said at another point. “For you guys to act this way is ridiculous.”
She claims she told the sergeant it was “a male Hispanic outside in the parking lot chasing three African-American kids with a knife.”
The deputies ignored the onlookers’ pleas. A deputy clutching a rifle repeatedly told the crowd to back up as they tried to explain the situation. TMZ reported the boys were held for about 30 minutes before they were released without charges.
The incident was traumatizing for the teenagers and their families, they say.
Collins recently talked to her son about George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who died in police custody on Memorial Day.
“I know that my son will never forget this experience. Especially after George Floyd, I sat him down and talked to him about how to respond if he was ever approached by police, so he knew exactly what to do,” Collins said to local news station NBC 4. “How to follow orders, not to say anything, not to do anything out of character. So, to see how they treated the boys, it was literally heartbreaking. I couldn’t watch the full video.”
Derrick Gray, father of one of the other boys, says he was almost reduced to tears.
“With them being victims, and having the police respond like that as if they were bank robbers — it hurt me so deep it almost made me cry,” he told the news station.
“I just thank God that we didn’t have a tragic or fatal outcome to this,” attorney Brown said the L.A. Times. “If in what was a very highly emotionally charged situation anyway, where you have these gentlemen who had just been attacked by someone with a knife, if they would have panicked or one of the officers would have panicked, this discussion could be taking a much different turn.”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva addressed the incident in a video statement posted on his Twitter page.
“A call for service was received regarding a felony assault, and the deputies detained those alleged to be involved,” Villanueva said on Monday. “The matter is currently being investigated.”