Protesters Gather At San Diego Police Headquarters After Body-Camera Footage Released
Speaker 1: 00:00 And there's been strong community backlash after the release of an image of what appears to be a San Diego police officer pointing a gun at an eight year old boy during a traffic stop. SDPD has since released body cam footage of the incident and claims the responding officer never had his gun drawn on the child in the first place in either case many have been calling on the San Diego police department to review their protocols and treatment of children during traffic stops. Joining me today to discuss this incident is San Diego union Tribune staff writer, David Hernandez, who covers law enforcement, crime, and public safety across San Diego. David, welcome. Thanks for having me and David, before we begin, I do want to play a brief clip of that altercation. Speaker 2: 00:48 Hey buddy. Just put your hands up for us. All right. Just come towards us. All right, come over here. Can you take that gun with him? He's eight years old, just come over to us. All right. You're good, bud. Speaker 1: 01:02 Eight years old there. David, what do we know so far about this traffic stop? Speaker 3: 01:06 Obviously it got a lot of attention once a photo of the encounter circulated online and the next day, uh, which was yesterday police, really some more information about how it all began. So what we know is that, uh, an officer OSI car speeding down park Boulevard in the Hillcrest area, try to pull it over the driver. Didn't pull over though, according to police and, um, eventually did. And that's when this entire traffic stopped that we see in the video unfolded. Um, essentially they first called out the driver who was the dad of the, of the kid. Um, and once he was in custody officers called for the kid to step out of the vehicle. And that's essentially the point of discussion in terms of whether the officer pointed his gun at the child or not, um, is in the end. You know, he, uh, was taken to the side by an officer while his father was issued a citation. And while officers searched the vehicle, Speaker 1: 02:07 You know, the father can be heard in the video pleading for one of the responding officers to put his gun away from the child. SDPD has released body cam footage from the incident and insists that the gun was not pointed at the boy. Um, how has SDPD responded to this incident? Speaker 3: 02:24 Yeah, so they, interestingly enough, uh, responded to the photo that circulated and to the dialogue around that photo by releasing the body camera video. And what was interesting is that they felt that it essentially showed that the officer had never pointed the gun at the child. And, uh, they said that in the statement that came with the video, um, however, uh, many people felt quite the opposite that the video did show that the officer pointed his gun at the child. And as we heard in the clip, you shared, the father also clearly felt that way too. He repeated repeatedly asks the officer not to point his gun at his eight year old son. Um, and so again, what was interesting is that the department released this too, as they essentially worded it to clarify some of the information. And they also said they wanted to do this to promote public trust, but, um, many felt that it did quite the opposite. Speaker 1: 03:21 And following the incident, a group of protestors demonstrated at police headquarters later on in the day, what's been the community reaction so far. Speaker 3: 03:30 Yeah, so many of the protests actually called for the officer to be fired. Um, but generally speaking, a lot of the conversation has unfolded online and many people have questioned the tactics that pleased use during the traffic stop. Um, in particular in how they dealt with the child who was in the car, um, council, woman, Monica, Montgomery step, who's the chair of the public safety and livable neighborhoods committee. She called on the police department to review how children are treated during traffic stops. So a lot of discussion about the trauma that this likely caused for the child and the implications of how police encounters, um, affect, uh, communities and in particular children, Speaker 1: 04:16 Do we know why the officer felt the need to pull a gun during a traffic stop? Speaker 3: 04:20 We have a little bit of insight in terms of some information that police released. So we know that they felt, um, that it was a high risk traffic stop, which essentially is a term for situations when officers believe that they may face a potentially dangerous situation. You know, we also know that the officer had called for backup. And the question there is, you know, why so many officers, and what we're told is that the officer thought that the driver was trying to get away because he didn't initially pull over. So, you know, with high-risk traffic stops, it's not uncommon for officers to pull out their guns and aim them at the car. But again, the debate kind of centers on, you know, whether officers acted appropriately and pointing the gun at the child or not. And what trauma that may have left the child with. Speaker 1: 05:07 And is there any indication from the city's commission on police practices that they'll be reviewing this altercation? Speaker 3: 05:13 Actually, that's one of the demands from community members that the police department investigate this incident. And it's very likely that it should, the police department review this incident, the commission on police practices would also look into it as well, but we haven't heard from the commission at this point, Speaker 1: 05:32 Community leaders have already begun calling on the San Diego police to review how children are treated during traffic stops. What can you tell us about that? Speaker 3: 05:41 So one of the strongest demands came from Councilwoman Mon Monica Montgomery step, who called for the police department to essentially review how officers interact with children during traffic stops. And, uh, essentially a lot of people are kind of questioning how officers react and respond at two, um, traffic stops, but in particular high-risk traffic stops. When, again, it isn't uncommon for officers to pull out their guns, but in this case, you know, it's an interesting dynamic because the child was involved. So a lot of the demands focus on how officers should treat cases, where children are involved. Speaker 1: 06:20 I've been speaking with David Hernandez who covers law enforcement, crime, and public safety for the San Diego union Tribune. David, thank you very much for joining us. Speaker 3: 06:29 Thanks for having me.