A candlelight vigil took place last night on West Guinida Lane in Anaheim in memory of David Raya and Joel Acevedo, two young men killed in officer-involved shootings not too far from each other during the summers of 2011 and 2012 respectively. Raya's killing was ruled justified by the Orange County District Attorney's office in October. The circumstances surrounding Acevedo are currently under investigation by the OCDA.
At Joel Acevedo's memorial site, Donna Acevedo began to talk about the memory of her son when one of the Anaheim Police Department's 'Angel' helicopters started circling overhead a little after 8 p.m. It was low and noisy enough to essentially drown out her teary-eyed testimony.
Check out and listen to our raw video below (cue the ghetto bird at 2:23):
The vigil was organized in response to contentious events that occurred Saturday on Guinida Lane including vehicle encounters between Acevedo and officer Kelly Phillips that ultimately ended in a pull over for a traffic ticket, calls for backup, angry residents and witnesses alleging that police trashed the memorial. Phillips, it was revealed in an OC Register ride-along write-up last year, was the officer involved in the fatal shooting of Joel Acevedo. The deceased man's mother claims he was handcuffed and executed. Police authorities have said that Acevedo was armed and fired first.
Last night's gathering drew more than forty people, including family members of both Acevedo and Raya. As to the question of the helicopter's presence, Anaheim Police Department Public Information Officer Bob Dunn tells the Weekly that “it was on patrol and monitoring several events at the venues in our South District.”
Genevieve Huizar, mother of another dead-by-cop Anaheimer, Manuel Diaz, called watch command complaining that the circling helicopter was being disrespectful. She eventually received a call back from someone and according to Dunn, it was relayed that the helicopter would be told to “avoid the area, unless necessary for emergencies, as to not interrupt the memorial.”
Earlier this morning, a press conference was held and called on officers that have been involved in police shootings, such as Phillips, to be reassigned to other neighborhoods.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz