An Orange County Sheriff's Department investigator, who has not been identified, was placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation after he brandished a weapon against a group of teenagers at a San Clemente skate park.
The confrontation allegedly began because the teens were playing loud music, but quickly escalated after the investigator pulled a handgun and pointed it at one of the teens even after they had agreed to stop the music.
In a video shot by one of the teens present, seen below, the investigator can be seen acting aggressively even before brandishing a weapon. Things escalate quickly thereafter, with the teen being threatened ending up on his knees on the ground with the investigator standing over him while still holding the weapon.
The investigator originally pulled the weapon after one teen raised his skateboard in both hands to protect himself after the investigator appears to have attempted to grab him.
'I'll Shoot You In The F---king Face': Off-Duty Officer Allegedly Pulls Gun On Teen At San Clemente youtu.be
Just before a gun was pulled, one of the teens can be heard saying:
"Hey, back off. We're going to stop. We're done, okay?"
The investigator allegedly said "I'll shoot you in the f***ING face if you don't stop," according to one of the teens who was present for the incident.
In addition to threatening the teens, the investigator failed to identify himself as a member of law enforcement until after threatening the group of teens with his sidearm. When he did eventually show his badge, briefly, he obscured his badge number with his fingers.
The teens also reported that they weren't even sure if it was a real badge, given his erratic behavior.
Sage McClung, who was at the park and witnessed the confrontation, said of the incident:
"I was right next to the kid that he pulled the gun on. The officer wasn't acting like an officer. Just a big bully."
Koa McClung reported that the investigator briefly showed him a badge as well, but he also assumed it was fake.
Folks on social media were critical of both the investigator and the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
@CBSLA Is this the kind of de escalation training OCSD receives. A bunch of teenagers in San Clemente! @RScottMoxley @OCSheriff— Craig Beam (@Craig Beam)1571282884.0
@CBSLA That deputy needs to be fired. Kids playing loud music at a skateboard park does not warrant pulling out a gun.— Music (@Music)1571293010.0
@CBSLA @OCSheriff so paid vacation till this blows over then announce that his actions were within department polic… https://t.co/A4ShxHrrSt— Angryed (@Angryed)1571549452.0
@KTLA Why was this man allowed to have a deadly weapon? He clearly cannot handle the responsibility.— James in da peach (@James in da peach)1571415579.0
One person pointed out that the skate park is far away from any houses in an industrial area of the city.
@CBSLA For the record. This skatepark is at the edge of town in an industrial area which backs up to a golf course.… https://t.co/FUqtUtDOQu— poop shitburger (@poop shitburger)1571285863.0
Some wondered why the teens' names have been released but the name of the investigator who threatened them has not.
@CBSLA Name the deputy. Why are the kids names and the deputy has his name hidden? @OCSheriffBarnes @OCSheriff— NegotiatingReason (@NegotiatingReason)1571284007.0
Orange County Sheriff's Department released a statement regarding the incident.
"Orange County Sheriff's Department employees are expected to conduct themselves with professionalism on and off-duty. We take this incident seriously and will fully investigate."
Police using excessive force is an unfortunately common reality that has slowly been getting more attention recently. Off-duty officers are definitely not excluded from this.
Botham Jean was shot in his own home by off-duty Dallas police officer Amber Guyger just last year.
Unlike Guyger, who was recently found guilty of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison, many officers leave these incidents behind them with minimal consequences while the other party suffers.
Citizen oversight boards might help with this, if the citizens are actually allowed to speak. Police department administration's would also have to act on the input from these groups to make lasting change.
Whatever the solution, a change is needed. Teens who are minding their own business in a skate park should not have to fear that an off-duty cop with a gun is going to shoot them.
Have you listened to the first season of George Takei's podcast, 'Oh Myyy Pod!'?
In season one we explored the racially charged videos that have taken the internet by storm.
We're hard at work on season two so be sure to subscribe here so you don't miss it when it goes live.
Here's one of our favorite episodes from season one. Enjoy!