Both the Anaheim police officer who shot and killed 25 year-old Manuel Diaz on July 21 and the other who killed 21 year-old Joel Acevedo the very next day on July 22 are no longer on paid administrative leave.
The two back-to-back officer-involved shootings set off long simmering tensions between the Latino community and the Anaheim Police Department culminating in social unrest exploding out on the streets surrounding City Hall on July 24.
“The officers have returned to work in their assignments,” Sgt. Bob Dunn confirms with the Weekly. “Our investigation and the District Attorney's independent investigation continue,” he adds. “We assess the status of the investigations daily and will evaluate any new information as it becomes available to us and take appropriate action.”
The news has the mothers of the young Latino men both perplexed and angry.
“I really don't have a response,” says Donna Castro, mother of Joel Acevedo. “What I've been told since the beginning that the officer has been back to work since it happened.” She says she was informed of that when she visited police headquarters on July 25, the day following major social unrest in the city.
A press release from the Anaheim Police Association dated July 23 noted that the officer involved in the killing had been put on paid leave. For Castro, answers have been hard to come by, however. She has tried to obtain the autopsy report into her son's death. “They're giving me nothing,” she adds. “Also, the District Attorney investigator assigned to my son's case is on vacation. If it's so high priority why is it sitting on someone's desk waiting for them to come back?”
For Genevieve Huizar, mother of Manuel Diaz, the news that the officer who shot and killed her son has returned to work has been devastating.
“I'm outraged. I can't believe that they let
him be back on the streets even before the legal process has taken
place,” she says as raw emotions tinge her voice. “It's inciting community anger. I'm just very frustrated. I'm sick
of the whole thing. I'm sick that they would do that.”