Update: The Anaheim Police Department disputed the accusation that the officer fired his weapon at the teen, telling Fusion that witnesses interviewed by police claim the gun was fired into the ground.
Thirteen-year-old Christian Dorscht was minutes away from home on Tuesday afternoon, the same way he always took from school with his friends. He had no idea he was passing the property of an off-duty LAPD officer, or that minutes later, the officer would almost shoot him.
It’s a story involving police “who think they can get away with anything or do whatever they want,” Christian’s father, Johnny Dorscht, tells me.
According to Christian’s father, it began when the officer, wearing plainclothes, swore at one of Christian’s friends, a girl, who may have walked on his lawn.
“My son defended her and said, 'Don’t talk to a lady like that,'” Johnny says. "That’s when the cop got mad and confronted my son, and threw him on the floor. The cop was choking him out. He got away, the cop pulled him back, and that’s when the video started.”
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In one part of the uncut video posted to Facebook by a witness, Christian is heard pleading “stop grabbing me” and “I didn’t do anything to hurt you, all I said was respect a girl.” The cop responds, “you said you were going to shoot me.” Christian protests, “I didn’t say that, I said I’m going to sue you," as the off-duty officer grabs him, dragging him across the lawn.
A scuffle ensues, with the cop drawing a pistol and firing a shot. The other teenagers flee, but the cop continues to hold onto Christian until more officers arrive.
“Luckily it didn’t hit my son,” Johnny tells me, his voice pained. “(The cop) should’ve never put hands on him. That should’ve never happened, what he did."
Police arrested Christian Dorscht Tuesday afternoon on charges of making criminal threats. Another, unnamed 15-year-old seen in the video attempting to help pull the officer off Christian was also arrested on assault and battery charges. Both, Anaheim police told Fusion, have since been released pending further investigation.
The shocking clip sparked large protests in Anaheim Wednesday evening, calling for the officer to be arrested. As of early Thursday morning, as many as 24 people arrested while demonstrating in support of Christian, Anaheim police confirmed.
Christian's father claims his son was detained and interrogated with 17 other teens on Tuesday.
“He was in an interrogation room, they were trying to get him to confess to something that he didn’t do. He just got out today… You can see scratches on his neck, bruises on his arms, how tight they had the handcuffs on him.
“He’s still kind of in shock at everything that’s happening. He’s not really wanting to talk about the incident, he says he’s OK, but we did take him to the hospital."
Johnny says he hasn’t slept since the incident, and has started a crowdfunding page for lawyer fees, called "Help Christian be a kid again." He hasn’t decided what legal action to take, but says "something’s going to happen because this is not right.”
The Los Angeles Police Department says it is investigating the incident and has placed the officer, who has not been named, on administrative leave.
“The complete investigation will be reviewed by the Chief of Police and the Board of Police Commissioners to determine whether the use of deadly force complied with LAPD's policies and procedures,” it said.
Johnny says he wants police to put themselves in his shoes. “Do the right thing, and don’t back him up because he’s a cop,” he says. “If that was your kid in the video and you knew your kid was doing the right thing, how would you feel?
He adds that he’s grateful to people protesting in support of his son, but hopes they’ll stay safe. “There’s a way to protest and there’s a way not to protest—just be smart about it. I don’t want anything else happening to the family, especially with the way some cops are these days."
This post has been updated throughout as more information has become available.