Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Monday that he has “concerns” about an encounter captured on cellphone video last week that shows deputies detaining at gunpoint Black teens who, according to their lawyer, had been assaulted by a man with a knife.
The lawyer, Robert Brown, said that bystanders called authorities after three teens, at least two of whom are Black, were harassed and assaulted by the man.
“After having been attacked with a knife, minutes later, they experienced numerous police officers pointing guns at them,” Brown said in a statement. “So two life-and-death situations in a matter of minutes.”
In a brief statement on the department’s Facebook page, Villanueva said that investigators are looking into the incident, which occurred Friday near a Buffalo Wild Wings in Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles.
“A call for service was received as a felony assault, and the deputies detained those that were allegedly involved,” he said. Villanueva added that he has “concerns about the tactics employed” in a video of the encounter posted on Instagram.
The video shows two officers who appear to have their weapons drawn standing outside a cruiser. A third emerges from an SUV with a rifle and points it at the teens, who are eventually taken into custody.
Nobody seen in the video has been publicly identified.
A spokeswoman from the sheriff’s office declined to say if the teens were arrested.
In the video, a woman who identifies herself as a manager of Buffalo Wild Wings tells the officers that she called 911 to alert officers to a Hispanic man “chasing three African Americans with a skateboard.”
“I told your sergeant who was the problem and what was going on and for you to act this way is ridiculous,” the woman says.
A spokesman for Buffalo Wild Wings' parent company, Inspire Brands, said the woman wasn't available for comment but confirmed she is a manager at the chain's Santa Clarita restaurant.
In the video, a deputy says he was "pretty sure" an officer was with the Hispanic man as well. “Everyone gets detained,” he said.
Another deputy says on the video that the officers are on another call for service.
“Someone was hit with a skateboard,” he says. “These three gentlemen were described in the call.”
Brown, the lawyer, said he wasn’t sure what happened to the man with the knife. He added that the teenagers did nothing wrong.
“The young men were extremely frightened to see officers pointing guns at them,” he said, adding, "It was traumatizing."