LA sheriff concerned after deputies detain Black teens at gunpoint
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Los Angeles County sheriff said Monday he is ordering a review of tactics deputies used to detain three teenagers at gunpoint after the mother of one said the youths had been threatened by a man holding a knife.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a social media post that he had seen a video of the incident — which was uploaded by one of the teens’ mothers to her Instagram profile last week — and that the matter is being investigated.
Villanueva is ordering a "thorough" review of the incident and an in-depth review of the Sheriff Department's patrol rifle deployment policy and training after video showed one deputy holding an AR-15 rifle, according to tweets from the Sheriff's Department.
CBS Los Angeles reported that the trio were teenagers. Deputy Juanita Navarro, a spokeswoman for the department, said the youths were not arrested during the incident Friday and had been released at the scene.
An attorney for the teens, Robert Brown, says two of the teens are Black and one is white.
Tammi Collins wrote on Instagram that her son was sitting with friends at a bus stop in the Santa Clarita Valley when a man asked them if they had any drugs and then tried to steal their belongings. She said the man then pulled out a knife and tried to stab them.
Collins wrote that bystanders called police to help the boys, though she wrote that apparently one caller reported that the teens were attacking the man.
Navarro said a caller reported that two Black men in their early 20s had struck a man with a skateboard.
The 11-minute video Collins posted shows at least three deputies pointing their guns at the teens — including one deputy who had a rifle. The teens obeyed the deputies' commands to back up with their hands up and knelt on the ground to be handcuffed.
Bystanders shouted at the officers that the teens didn't do anything.
The bystanders also tried to advise the teens as they were being detained, saying "keep your hands up, keep your hands up!" as well as "just listen to them and it'll be over soon" and "don't answer any questions until your mom gets there."
After the teens were handcuffed, the deputies argued with the crowd over what happened and what the callers reported.
"If they weren't doing wrong, we wouldn't be here," one deputy said.
Navarro said deputies could not find the man.
It was not clear if Collins recorded the video, but she wrote that she didn't know how she could help her son in the aftermath.
"This is something my son and his friends will never forget," she wrote.
This story was first published on August 10, 2020. It has been corrected to remove references to the three teens being Black. The attorney for the teens, Robert Brown, says one of the teens is white.
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