A “big bully” Orange County sheriff’s deputy as one witness described him is on administrative leave after threatening a group of teens with a handgun for playing their music too loudly last month.
The officer was off duty and didn’t immediately identify himself as a cop when he pulled up on the group on October 12 at a skate park in San Clemente, California. The unnamed cop, whose identity is being withheld by the sheriff's department, demanded the group turn off their loud music, but the teens said they would only turn it down, “trying to be respectful,” Patrick O'Connor told Fox 11.
Apparently, things escalated when a boy named Cole teased the cop after their encounter. In the cell phone footage of the incident, the cop is seen charging at a boy holding a skateboard, but it’s unclear what’s being said. When the teen holds up his board in defense, the cop takes that as his cue to whip out his own method of defensive – a gun.
“He was coming up to a friend very fast and aggressive, so my other friend jumped in and put his hand out for him to stop,” Koa McClung told CBSLA. “My other friend held up his skateboard for him to stop, then the guy pulled a gun and said, ‘I’ll shoot you in the f–king face if you don’t stop.’”
The deputy is later seen in the video defending his actions and flashing his apparent police badge, finally identifying himself as a cop.
“He’s lucky he didn’t get shot,” the man said to an adult on the scene and repeated to the 16-year-old who retreated from the cop with his hands raised as soon as he saw the gun. His mercy plea didn’t matter though because the cop backed the teen into a fence, forcing him down on one knee while the deputy towered over him.
“I was right next to the kid that he pulled the gun on,” Sage McClung told CBSLA. “The officer wasn’t acting like an officer, just a big bully.”
According to the county’s public affairs director, the police department’s internal investigation will be sent to the Orange County District Attorney once completed.
“Orange County Sheriff’s Department employees are expected to conduct themselves with professionalism on and off-duty,” Carrie Braun said in a statement.
As for the victim of this cop’s harassment, the teen’s parents are asking for witnesses to come forward with any recording and evidence to bolster their court case against him. Although the parents are unable to give an interview until a decision has been reached, other parents from the neighborhood have voiced their support for the family.
“It’s appalling and terrifying because sometimes we do leave are kids here [at the skate park] unchaperoned to be with their friends,” one mother said.
While kids may continue to skate and hang out with friends at the park, FOX11 reports the teen threatened by the cop is too afraid to return.