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California officer placed on leave after threatening teen skaters at gunpoint

October 18, 2019 - 6:27 am

lzf/iStock(SAN CLEMENTE, Calif.) -- A California police officer was placed on administrative leave this week after video appeared to show him threatening a group of teen skaters at gunpoint, authorities said Thursday.

Cellphone footage showed the off-duty Orange County Sheriff's Department deputy pointing a handgun while visiting a skate park in San Clemente after a teen raised his skateboard at him.

Witnesses said the confrontation began on Saturday night when the plain-clothes officer approached the teens and ordered them stop playing loud music.

Things escalated when the officer appeared to grab the teen's hand. The teen is seen pulling his hand away and begins to back away while raising his skateboard.

That's when the man pulled a small handgun out of his pocket, prompting the teen to drop his skateboard and retreat with his hands in the air.

One of the teen's parents told ABC Los Angeles station KABC-TV that the man did not immediately identify himself as a law enforcement officer. The man did appear to pull out a badge later on, although it was partially obscured by his fingers.

"My friend didn't know he was a cop. 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 … the guy grabbed his hand aggressively," a witness told CBSLA in an on-camera interview Wednesday. "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---ing face if you don't stop.'"

The Orange County Sheriff's Department did not release the officer's identity, but it confirmed he was placed administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

"Orange County Sheriff's Department employees are expected to conduct themselves with professionalism on and off-duty," the department said in a statement. "We take this incident seriously and will fully investigate. The investigation will be turned over to the Orange County District Attorney's Office at its conclusion."

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