Anaheim Police's Mad Dog

[Moxley Confidential] K9 attack on baby in a stroller inches to trial. Plus: Register boss showing cracks, voters re-elect Neanderthal judge

Anaheim Police's Mad Dog
Luke McGarry

Nobody can deny Anaheim cops screwed up near the intersection of Anna Drive and La Palma Avenue on the evening of July 21, 2012. Earlier that afternoon, bored officers, curious about a gathering of young Latino men, chased an unarmed Manuel Diaz, fatally shot him in the back of the head and took their time calling an ambulance. Officers then huddled in riot gear as a show of force against residents, who'd lawfully assembled in protest of what they viewed as police brutality stemming from a chronic shoot-first-ask-questions-later mentality.

The crowd of about 100 people yelled, complained to journalists and waved handmade signs. A few of the protesters threw bottles and rocks at officers. Provoking even greater tension, a moron started a fire in a dumpster, and Anaheim PD's whirly-bird crew flew obnoxiously low, providing an ominous war-zone soundtrack.

And then the surreal happened.

A puzzled Junior Lagunas, 19, who was an acquaintance of Diaz's, heard the commotion and arrived at the scene. With him was his girlfriend, Crystal Ventura; their 16-month-old toddler in a stroller; and the baby's grandmother, Yesenia Rojas. Unarmed, they posed no physical threat to the cops, but the police began firing weapons at them. Lagunas ducked, tried to protect his baby, saw officer Robert Lopez's unrestrained K9 partner lunging at his child for an attack and blocked the mutt, which chomped its teeth into his forearm. Rojas ran to her son when she saw the attack and became target practice for Sergeant Michael Lynch, who shot the women three times with non-lethal but painful pepper-ball blasts. The victims later showed their wounds to camera crews from several Los Angeles TV news stations.

In the wake of that public-relations disaster, then-police chief John Welter quickly manned up. "I want to personally apologize for the police dog incident," said Welter, who claimed Lopez had failed to properly secure the animal in a patrol car. "It's embarrassing to us."

But that sentiment didn't last. Police lawyers couldn't do much to defend the dog bite, though they insisted the cops fired only at individuals who posed a risk to officer safety. So, Lagunas and his family had to hire legal representation and file a lawsuit for damages (including hospital and psychological costs) inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.

"The plaintiffs contend that their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and to peaceably assemble, as provided by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, were violated," wrote Santa Ana-based lawyers Federico C. Sayre and Adam L. Salamoff. "The shooting at them and release of the police attack dog, when they had not committed any crimes, were unarmed and were not threatening harm to the police or any other persons, violated the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. . . . State action designed to retaliate against and chill political expression strikes at the very heart of the First Amendment."

Late last month, U.S. District Court Judge Josephine L. Staton began final preparations for a scheduled July 22 jury trial. Staton, a graduate of Harvard Law School and a 2010 appointee of President Barack Obama, has set aside four days for jurors to hear testimony and arguments. But a trial might be avoided. Sayre recently advised the judge, "We've had some fairly decent settlement discussions," an assertion that was greeted with an affirmative head nod by Anaheim City Attorney Michael R.W. Houston.

*     *     *

MAINSTREAM MEDIA CRACKS ON REGISTER BOSS
Aaron Kushner, embattled publisher of The Orange County Register, probably assumed his recent interview with Larry Mantle, KPCC's host of AirTalk, would be painless. As we've previously reported, members of the mainstream media have repeatedly abandoned their cognitive powers to become squealing Kushner cheerleaders solely because he initially made grandiose promises of creating a journalistic utopia when the rest of the media world was steeped in layoffs and cutbacks. Never mind that one of his first steps was to quietly axe the company's matching 401(k) retirement contributions to reporters.

"Despite all the saccharine hype, Kushner's 15-month rule at Grand Avenue demonstrates no point greater than that the 40-year-old businessman with a background in hawking greeting cards is a superb salesman whose ignorance of journalism only seems to fuel his rah-rah enthusiasm," I observed on these pages in September 2013.

Signs of Kushner's incompetence have only continued to mount in the intervening nine months: a horribly expensive pay-wall that often made the Register unnecessarily irrelevant; a juvenile focus on happy news and big photos of high-school club meetings; secret deals tying favorable news coverage for businesses that enter into advertising contracts; huge layoffs of veteran talent; and ill-advised expansion into Long Beach, Los Angeles and Riverside. Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano recently disclosed there will be mandatory furloughs this summer at the Register and Kushner's desperation sales pitches to attract investors. His reign is buried in such a financial mess he's even trying to sell Reg headquarters in Santa Ana as well as other papers in the once-mighty Freedom Communications chain.

Given that ugly reality, Kushner's appearance on Mantle's June 4 broadcast was, as we've become accustomed, another opportunity for him to happily declare all is well despite the iceberg dead ahead. "We're highly confident that the team as it continues will be able to continue to deliver against our mission of community building," he robotically uttered. "We invested in community building, not in print, not in digital. We invested in our communities."

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16 comments
downtownbrown
downtownbrown

Have seen the video many times.  Astounding how the parent's thought process works: "Gee, there has been a police shooting in my hood, there's angry vatos everywhere and they're confronting cops who, guess what, have police dogs and are armed.

NOW is the time to take the little toddler for a stroll?  Incredibly stupid people!

949girl
949girl topcommenter

Judge Derek Johnson sounds like a very ignorant man.  "although she wasn't necessarily willing, she didn't put up a fight."  That statement is ridiculous and he should have been thrown off the bench right then.  I've watched many crime shows that have interviewed women who have been raped or attacked and they have said that to make it better for themselves  knowing that they knew they were physically overpowered that it was in their best interest to do what they can to survive and that would be to not fight back.  And in that case it might not to put up a fight when that could result in death if they angered their attacker.  Elizabeth Smart didn't put up a fight because she was a little girl who was much smaller than her abductor.  Does this jerk think this way about all rapes?  Get rid of him ASAP!

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

"We've had some fairly decent settlement discussions," an assertion that was greeted with an affirmative head nod by Anaheim City Attorney Michael R.W. Houston."

Fantastic con on the people of Anaheim. Your police acting like bullying criminal sociopaths (90 years at least) using the resources of Anaheim residents. Then when the shit hits the fan, paying off the victims of your criminal garbage behavior using the resources of the people of Anaheim. All why violating the trust of an influential segment of your city who believe you to be little angels - and whose opinion you care about the most.

It's time to party like it's 1925.

Dull_Normal
Dull_Normal

So many failures here...including the choice to bring a toddler to a potentially volatile situation...

JGlanton
JGlanton topcommenter

Moxley stories read as if they are reprinted press statements from sleazy defense lawyers.

meheecan-cris-doner
meheecan-cris-doner

i had a friend that got bit by an Anaheim oinkster dog. he had nothing to do with the incident that the police were investigating, but decided to break in his home and release the hound on him. a few days later they went to his home and apologized to him for their mistake... pinches pedejos, ha!

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

RE: " 'SHREDDED' VAGINA JUDGE FACES VOTERS" 

I suppose a Neanderthal judge is fitting for a county full of troglodytes. :-(

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@downtownbrown 

So it was an appropriate "punishment" for those "bad parents" to have a police dog take a bite out of the father's arm and for the baby's granny to be sprayed with pepper bullets?!!! Give me a break.

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@949girl 

It's infuriating that being a hard-core misogynist isn't grounds for a judge's immediate removal from the bench...

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@JGlanton 

Do you dispute the facts reported in the article...or do you simply object to Mr. Moxley's candor?

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

Well, easy for me to judge from where I'm sitting, but  "...  hear(ing) the commotion and arriv(ing) at the scene" I would not have taken a child of mine into a situation like that, that sounds like poor judgment.

Don't get me wrong, though, that does not provide any excuse for the reported lack of control on the part of the police.

I would expect a lawsuit to be filed by the Lagunas. I would.

I guess this is one we disagree on.

949girl
949girl topcommenter

@fishwithoutbicycle @Dull_Normal Well it's pretty dumb to bring your baby there in the first place but the poor thing definitely is a victim and not to blame.  I didn't take that comment as blaming the victim just that they made a poor choice bringing an infant in to that situation.

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@BillxT 

I could argue the whole world is a dangerous place for a child...one of the reasons I don't have any of my own...but, you are right, the situation was no place for a baby. And we both agree the cops were in the wrong, regardless...

949girl
949girl topcommenter

@BillxT Cops are definitely at fault, no disputing that.  Dumb of the parents to bring their baby there in the first place though in my opinion.  

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@949girl @fishwithoutbicycle @Dull_Normal 

I'm all for keeping the little ones safe...it's just interesting that bringing the baby into the situation was the only bad decision specifically mentioned...seems to hint at deflecting blame from the police who behaved inappropriately.

 
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