Mother of Son Arrested by Santa Ana School Cop Says Viral Video Shows 'Abuse of Power' UPDATE

Gabriel San Roman / OC Weekly
Griselda Lopez (left) with Elvia Fernandez who filmed the rough arrest of her son
See bottom of the post on page 2 for update with SAUSD Police Chief.

ORIGINAL POST, APRIL 11, 12:26 P.M.: On the fourth floor of the Lamoreaux Justice Center in Orange, Griselda Lopez waited with her son for his case to be called. The cherubic 14 year-old is at the center of a viral video first reported by the Weekly showing his rough arrest by a Santa Ana school cop at Adams Park. Elvia Fernandez joined Lopez and her son earlier this morning. She filmed the encounter and came to support Lopez, a single mother, so that the woman wouldn't be alone.

Lopez, a 40 year-old Santa Ana resident, said she received a phone call from her son about the incident on Tuesday. "He told me that he had been arrested but I didn't know why," she told the Weekly in Spanish during an interview at the Orange County Juvenile Courthouse today. Lopez said officials defended the officer's behavior. "They told me that he had hurt the cop and ran," the mother adds. "They said they had arrested him because he was tagging the bench at the park. After that, he ran and resisted."

At that point, she hadn't seen the video. "I didn't know until later on that night when my daughter told me, 'Mother, there's a video where [he] came out," she said. "It's not true what the cops say.'"

Lopez wanted to see it for herself, but her daughter told her that her brother didn't want her to see the video. She chose to watch it anyway. "I heard the voice of [Elvia] and wondered who was filming and who was the man that was defending him," she said. "I was left surprised. I looked for [Fernandez] on Facebook and contacted her," Lopez says. The two talked on Thursday. "She explained a little more about what happened and that it wasn't true that [my son] had run."

The youngster himself denies he ran from police. He does admit biting the officer, but says he did so only after being choked. He says the officer asked him if he was in a gang. "I ain't from nowhere," he says he responded. The youth did sign his initials on documents after his arrest including a promise that he would stay away form "gang gathering areas."

At the end of the Adams Park ordeal, the teen said he counted six patrol cars and eight officer at the scene. Authorities won't release the name to media, but the youth caught "Harris" on his badge. A Sgt. Brian Harris is employed with the Santa Ana Unified School District and is coordinator for the Gang Reduction and Intervention Program known simply as GRIP. The SAUSD Police Department declined to confirm or deny the identity of the cop caught on camera.

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