Bystanders in Santa Clarita said they called law enforcement for help when a group of Black teenagers was allegedly attacked by a man with a knife. But a video of the incident posted to social media shows that arriving deputies pointed their guns at the teens and detained them instead.
The incident occurred last Friday at about 5 p.m. at Soledad Canyon and Whites Canyon roads, in view of a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant.
Tammi Collins is the mother of one of the teens. She posted an 11-minute video of the encounter on Instagram. In her post, she said that a homeless man approached her son and his friends at a bus stop and asked them for drugs before removing his shirt and pulling out a knife. The boys responded by holding out their skateboards to protect themselves.
Witnesses called the police, and deputies soon arrived. The video shows the deputies pointing their guns at the teenage boys, who are then handcuffed and detained as bystanders try to explain that the boys didn’t do anything, but were attacked by a different man. One of the bystanders is heard identifying herself as the manager of the Buffalo Wild Wings. She said she witnessed the attack on the boys and was the one who called for help. The deputies claimed they were on a different call about a man being hit with a skateboard.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department referred to this call when speaking with KHTS, a Santa Clarita radio station. According to the LASD, deputies responded to a report of an assault with a deadly weapon, that weapon being a skateboard. They said they detained two suspects, who were later released, and mentioned an “uncooperative” crowd that caused them to request more units. Deputies ultimately determined that no crime had occurred.
It’s not clear what happened to the teens’ alleged attacker, nor is it clear who made the call accusing the boys of being the aggressors. Nor is it clear who, if anyone, responded to the restaurant manager’s call if the deputies in the video were responding to the other call. In short: It’s pretty confusing. And for Collins and her family, it’s traumatic.
“This is something my son and his friends will never forget,” Collins wrote.
It’s also worth noting the video shows some of the deputies weren’t wearing masks during the encounter, despite it being mandatory statewide. One deputy does have his mask dangling from his belt as he guides a masked teen into the back of a cruiser, though.
Author Anthony Breznican shared the video on Twitter, along with a comment about racism in Santa Clarita.
He also shared a clip of Santa Clarita Councilmember Bob Kellar talking about “the illegals” in 2010 as a crowd cheers. In the video, Kellar relates a story about a time someone accused him of being racist when he advocated for only one flag and one language in the U.S. He supposedly responded, “That’s good. If that’s what you think I am because I happen to believe in America, I’m a proud racist. You’re darn right I am.”
Kellar, who said the statement was taken out of context, is still on the city council but does not plan to run for reelection when his term ends in November.
We reached out to the LASD for comment, but have yet to hear back.
Update 6:18 p.m.: In a video posted to social media, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he has “concerns regarding the tactics deployed” and that the matter is under investigation.