A Quick History of the Blunder-Happy Santa Ana School Police Force at Center of Controversial Video
Last week's viral video showing a Santa Ana school cop restraining a teen tagger with what witnesses described as a chokehold wasn't the first embarrassing moment for the department. They've been caught on film before and seem to be as adverse to cameras as vampires are to sunlight!
A juvenile court date for the kid and completion of an internal investigation by the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) Police Department await this week.
In the meantime, the Weekly compiled a short list of their best impressions of Reno 911!
1. School Cop vs. Adams Park Kid
Filmed by Elvia Fernandez, a concerned onlooker, footage of the rough arrest by a Santa Ana school cop of a 14-year-old at Adams Park went viral and hit nationwide media. As of writing, the original cellphone video has 16,673 shares from her Facebook page where she first posted it. Images of a grown man on top of a squealing teen jarred many as a witness at the park screamed "You're choking him!" The school cop responded with "He's fighting me" and, in the poorest choice of words, admonished Fernandez for talking to the youth saying "Stop speaking Spanish!" The kid caught the name "Harris" on the badge.
2. Santa Ana School Police vs. CopWatch Santa Ana
Before the incident at Adams Park, CopWatch Santa Ana responded to allegations of school police harassment of a juvenile girl near McFadden Intermediate. In December 2012, activists happened upon a young woman being pulled over and began filming. Despite having a competent command of recording without interfering with police work, the school cop called for back up. Additional units arrived, giving the CopWatch crew a hard time. The officer at the end, an activist from the group tells the Weekly, was none other than a Sergeant Harris, though it remains to be seen if it's the same Harris from last week's video. This particular video also went viral.
3. Sgt. Manuel Chavez vs. Know Your Rights Workshop
In the month following the filming of school cops near McFadden Intermediate, an inaugural Boys and Men of Color Conference took place at Valley High School in SanTana. The CopWatch group that got under officers' skin gave a 'know your rights' workshop as part of the day's program. People in attendance noticed a man sitting at a desk uncomfortably while recording everything with an audio device. As soon as the presentation wrapped up, he quickly vanished, but not before someone already snapped a photograph. The man dressed in plainclothes was outed as Santa Ana School Police Sergeant Manuel Chavez by The Rebel Press, an independent blog mainly focused on issues of police brutality, when he showed up to a SAUSD PTA meeting the following week.
Sgt. Manuel Chavez
Keep these three documented blunders in mind as the Santa Ana School police take on the task of investigating themselves and present their conclusions later this week. See you then!
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz