Protest over CA police shootings turns violent, hospitalizing cop trying to help slain teen

By Travis Gettys
Thursday, May 22, 2014 11:49 EDT
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A protest over two fatal Salinas, California, police shootings in two weeks ended Wednesday night with another deadly shooting and police in riot gear.

One person was shot to death about 9 p.m. a few blocks away from the impromptu protest, which started about 1 p.m. with 10 people and swelled to more than 300 demonstrators.

Police officers and paramedics who tended to the teenage shooting victim were pelted with bottles, bricks, rocks, and other objects, and police responded by sending officers in riot gear into the area.

One officer was hospitalized after he was struck in the head by a bottle, but he is expected to recover.

Authorities said the Wednesday night shooting was likely gang-related.

Tensions have run high in the city’s east side neighborhood after officers shot to death two suspects in 11 days – and a third man in March.

Angel Ruiz was armed with a soft pellet gun March 20 when police shot him outside a restaurant.

Officers fatally shot Osman Hernandez, who was armed with a lettuce knife, during a May 9 confrontation at a busy shopping center.

Police shot an unidentified Hispanic man armed with gardening shears Tuesday afternoon after following him on foot in an incident caught on cell phone video that was widely shared on social media.

In the two most recent shootings, police said, both suspects were extremely intoxicated and carrying sharp objects.

“So basically if you’re drunk here in Salinas you run the risk of getting shot by police and it just shows the lack of training,” said resident Ralph Garcia. “That they have to resort to lethal force all the time and kill civilians. That’s not right, we’re not going to allow this.”

The protest began near a small memorial set up for the most recent shooting victim, and demonstrators held signs accusing police of murder and demanding the arrests of four officers involved in the two most recent shootings.

Residents said they feared for their own safety during interactions with the police.

“I never hear the day they kill a student or a white guy,” said Rogelio Jacinto, a lifelong Salinas resident.

Community meetings about the shootings are planned for Thursday evening and Sunday morning.

Watch video of the protests posted online by Salinas Pigs:

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