An outraged California community is asking why sheriff’s deputies pointed guns at three Black teenagers, who said a man chased them with a knife. Witness video shows one of the deputies aiming what looks like an assault rifle.
The Los Angeles County sheriff says he’s concerned about the tactics the deputies used. In the video, desperate bystanders are heard pleading with deputies to stand down, defending the three Black teens at the other end of the officers’ weapons.
“Put your guns down,” one said. “They’re kids.”
Each of the teens obeyed deputies’ commands to walk back toward them with their hands raised. They were handcuffed but eventually released.
Tammi Collins, whose son was one of the three boys held at gunpoint, said she started crying when she first saw the video.
“I felt my throat closing almost ’cause it was so surreal that this was happening to him,” she told CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas. “I was screaming because I wasn’t there for my son, and I knew he was afraid, but he followed everything that I had taught him to do if he ever got in a situation like that.”
The boys say they were waiting at a bus stop in the Santa Clarita Valley, when a homeless man tried to stab them. They say they fended off the attack, using their skateboards as shields.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says deputies were responding to a report “that two male Black adults hit a victim with a skateboard,” but that the victim could not be located. Witnesses at the scene corroborated the teens’ story.
“I got on the phone and told you guys, there’s a male Hispanic out here chasing these kids with a knife,” a witness is heard saying in the video.
Derrick Gray, whose son was also one of the boys detained, said watching the video hurt his heart.
“To have him go through that ordeal at the age of 16 is inconceivable,” he said. “I could’ve possibly lost my son, my youngest son, because somebody called the police to protect him and instead of being protected, he was accosted, and this will stay with him for the rest of his life.”
Both families say they’re exploring therapy for their sons. Santa Clarita’s mayor has asked the department to expedite its review of the incident and that “the deputy be removed from the field” pending the investigation. It’s unclear which deputy he’s talking about.