The parents of two of the Black teens who had weapons pointed at them when they say they had called for help in Santa Clarita say they could hardly watch the full video showing deputies detain their children.
The lawyer for the families of three teens, two of whom are Black, seen in a video that had amassed millions of views said they had two life and death situations within minutes after a man went after them with a knife, then deputies arrived and pointed weapons at the teens.
Tammi Collins said she couldn’t bring herself to watch the full video showing her son, who she wishes to not identify, being ordered to the ground by Los Angeles County Sheriff deputies.
“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. “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.”
The video of the incident from Friday had garnered outrage across social media and spurred calls from the mayor of Santa Clarita requesting the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department remove the deputy involved until an investigation could be completed.
Derrick Gray, a parent of one of the other teens in the video, said the video nearly made him weep.
“When I watched the video, it hurt me, because I’ve given my life for the country. I’m a veteran,” Gray said. “I’ve raised my children to do what’s right, you know?”
The video showed deputies pointing weapons at a trio of teens who – along with witnesses seen in the video – say they had called police for help after a homeless man went after them with a knife. They had been waiting for a bus at the time.
“This is something my son and his friends will never forget. I still wonder how will I ever help my son recover from this traumatic experience. Please pray for my family,” Collins said in an Instagram video she shared of the incident.
The parents said they never received a call from the sheriff’s department until the children had been released.
Collins and Gray said they couldn’t help but wonder if the situation might have gone differently if their sons were white.
The LA County Sheriff’s Department said it was investigating the Friday incident, and the video, and also said it did not receive a call regarding a homeless man with a knife.
Later Monday, LA County Alex Villanueva released a brief video regarding the video and incident in Santa Clarita’s Canyon Country.
What happened to the prior of the start of the viral video involving the teens, two of whom are Black, is unclear.
“The young men are still shaken up by the incident. It was traumatizing. After having been attacked with knife, minutes later, they experienced numerous police officer pointing guns at them,” said family attorney Robert Brown. “So [two] life and death situations in a matter of minutes. At this time, it has been decided that the young men should not speak about what happened and that they should focus on processing the situation and healing.”
In the video posted to social media Friday, a crowd can be heard shouting at deputies who have weapons trained on the teens, who are near a bus stop.
People off-camera can be heard yelling, “It’s not them!” referring to the teens.
The deputies continually tell the crowd to back up, as witnesses tell the teens to make sure they keep their hands up.
The deputies in the video also say they were responding to a call about men who matched the teens’ descriptions, and that it was standard practice to detain them.
A woman identifying herself as the manager of a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings also tells the deputies that it wasn’t the teens who had caused trouble.
She said she told the sergeant who was the instigator, and that it was not the teens.
“I’m the one that called you guys,” the manager can be heard saying.
Eventually the teens were detained, though no one was arrested.
In response to social media outrage, the sheriff’s department released a statement saying an internal investigation was underway.
The department said Friday afternoon, deputies received a call for a possible assault with a deadly weapon in the 19200 block of Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country.
The person who had called said they witnessed two men in their 20s hit another man with a skateboard.
When deputies arrived, they said they found two men who matched the descriptions, and detained them.
Deputies also said they received no other calls about a knife attack from a homeless man.
After questioning the teens and investigating briefly, they made no arrests.
However, witnesses in the tense video were shouting at deputies that the teens had called for help after a homeless man pulled a knife on them, and were concerned a man with a knife was loose on the streets.
Sheriff Villanueva said the incident would be investigated to ensure that it had been handled properly.
The following statement was released on behalf of City of Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth:
“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… We have spoken to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and we are aware that a full investigation is underway regarding the level of response by the deputies. We have asked that the review be expedited and any necessary actions be taken. In addition, we have asked that the deputy be removed from the field pending the outcome of the investigation.”
The teens’ families said their attorney Robert Brown would be following up with the sheriff’s department.
A small group of protesters showed up Monday in front of the bus stop where it happened saying they’re angry with the deputies involved.
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Source: NBC Los Angeles