"It was the other guy," bystanders screamed repeatedly while the deputies held the teens at gunpoint and handcuffed them.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies held three teenagers at gunpoint on Friday after bystanders called 911 to report that the boys were being attacked by a homeless man with a knife. The teens — two of whom are Black — were sitting with their skateboards at a bus stop along Soledad Canyon Road in Santa Clarita when they were reportedly approached by a man who asked them if they had any crack. Civil rights attorney Robert Brown, who is representing one of the teen's families, said on Monday that the individual pulled out a knife and began thrusting it at them when the boys asked him to leave alone.
"The response was overboard and too aggressive," says the father of one of the teen boys held at gunpoint by deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in Santa Clarita this weekend https://t.co/FIu84DaJnZ— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) August 11, 2020
According to the Los Angeles Times, Brown said that the attack prompted the teens to raise their skateboards as shields while multiple people called 911 to report the incident. However, when deputies arrived at the scene, they immediately began treating the youngsters as criminals instead of victims. In an 11-minutes-long video posted to Instagram by Tammi Collins, whose 16-year-old son was one of those detained, at least three sheriff's deputies are seen approaching the bus stop with their guns pointed at the teens. "I just can’t believe that the only way to handle this was to approach it with guns drawn," said Brown.
Police in Santa Clarita point their guns & arrest the teenagers who needed their help pic.twitter.com/GPjQo80ICd— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) August 10, 2020
While bystanders desperately attempt to inform the deputies that the boys were the ones who were attacked, the deputies instruct each teen to walk backward toward them. Seemingly oblivious to the shouts of those who witnessed the attack, the cops then handcuffed all three boys and put them into squad cars. "During all of this time, you have bystanders telling them that, in fact, the teens are the victims," said Brown. "And the deputies don’t seem to be quite so responsive."
Having a gun pointed at you by the people you called to protect you is the single most horrifying thing you can experience. It changes everything.— Abi Wilson (@abigail_evitt) August 11, 2020
"It was the other guy," multiple people are heard shouting at the deputies in the video, informing them that the suspect had fled down the street. At one point, a woman who identifies herself as the manager of a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings approaches one of the officers to try and clear the confusion. She informs him that she had called 911 to report that the teens were being chased through the restaurant's parking lot by a man with a knife. "I told your sergeant who was the problem and what was going on," she can be heard saying. "For you guys to act this way is ridiculous."
"Do you understand what this looks like?" she asks at another point. In response, the deputies reply that they detained the teens in response to a different call in which the caller reported someone being assaulted with a skateboard. "A call for service was received regarding a felony assault, and the deputies detained those alleged to be involved," Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a videotaped statement on Monday. "The matter is currently being investigated." He also stated that he has "concerns regarding the tactics employed" in the incident.
My statement regarding the recent video involving a call for service in Santa Clarita. The matter is being investigated & we will provide updates as they become available. pic.twitter.com/yu1ZCXtVKz— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) August 10, 2020
Brown revealed that the teens were held in the squad cars for about 30 minutes before they were released with no charges. "I just thank God that we didn’t have a tragic or fatal outcome to this," he said. "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."
Brown stated that he is investigating the incident for a possible lawsuit but is yet to arrive at a decision. Meanwhile, Collins and her son are still trying to recover from the traumatic experience. "This is something my son and his friends will never forget," the concerned mother wrote on Instagram. "I'm still [wondering] how will I ever help my son recover from this traumatic experience."
you cannot deny systemic racism exists when these two innocent black boys were immediately assumed to be suspects in a situation where they were in danger, only to be put in more danger (rifles were literally pointed at them !!) by law enforcement https://t.co/k16Jw3CAvv— joie (@thatsojoie) August 10, 2020