California police shootings prompt Anaheim arrests

Police fired soft bullets and pepper balls at the crowd after violence broke out in Anaheim, California

Twenty-four people have been arrested during a fourth night of violence after fatal weekend police shootings of two men in Anaheim, California.

The violence mounted outside City Hall as council members voted unanimously to investigate the incidents.

About 600 protesters threw rocks, broke windows, and threw a petrol bomb at a police car as 250 policemen fired soft bullets and pepper balls at the crowd.

Order was restored around 02:00 (09:00 GMT), police said.

At least six people were injured, including a police officer who was struck on the arm with a brick, a protester who was hit in the chest by a pepper ball and three reporters who were struck by rocks and a beanbag round.

Rubbish bins were set on fire during a seven-hour standoff with police wearing riot gear.

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has called for state and federal investigations, and the FBI said it would review one of the shootings to see if a civil rights investigation should be launched, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Deadly weekend

"Anaheim Police Department is just way out of control," protester David Zavala, 25, told the newspaper on Tuesday evening. "The cops are supposed to be there to protect and serve."

Police arrest a protester in the wake of two fatal police shootings in Anaheim, California 24 July 2012 Including the deaths over the weekend six police shootings - five of which were fatal - have taken place in Anaheim this year, up from four a year earlier

Police Chief John Welter said Manuel Diaz was fatally shot on Saturday after two policemen approached three people who were behaving suspiciously in an alley. He then tried to run away.

Mr Welter did not say what led the policeman to shoot Diaz.

But the police chief said the man did not obey orders to stop and threw something that police believe contained heroin onto the roof of a nearby building.

Kerry Condon, president of the Anaheim Police Association, said: "Feeling that Diaz was drawing a weapon, the officer opened fire on Diaz to stop the threat," the Los Angeles Times reported.

The police association's statement said that "the documented gang member" was holding a "concealed object in his front waistband with both hands."

Diaz was shot in the leg and the back of the head, court papers are reported to say. His family filed a lawsuit against the police department on Tuesday seeking $50m (£32m) in damages.

At a Wednesday press conference, lawyers for the Diaz family said it was not true that Manuel Diaz was a gang member. They called for the officer who shot him to be arrested and a full trial to be held.

His mother, Genevieve Huizar, said that she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community but called for protests to be peaceful.

"Please stop the violence," she said. "It's not going to bring my son back."

The second shooting took place on Sunday, when police saw a suspected gang member in a stolen car. After a short chase, three people jumped out of the sports utility vehicle and ran.

Joel Mathew Acevedo, 21, fired at a policeman who then shot him dead.

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