A civil lawsuit has been filed against an off-duty Los Angeles police officer who fired his gun during a wild videotaped clash with several teenagers in Anaheim last month, according to court records and a police union spokesman.
Christian and John Dorscht filed the complaint against LAPD Officer Kevin Ferguson on Feb. 28, according to Orange County Superior Court records. Dustin DeRollo, a spokesman for the union that represents rank-and-file LAPD officers, said the suit was brought by the parents of one of the teenagers involved in the Feb. 21 confrontation.
The violent exchange between Ferguson and a group of teens was sparked by an argument over the teens’ decision to walk across a neighborhood lawn on West Palais Road. Ferguson and a 13-year-old boy began shouting at each other and exchanging profanities, according to cellphone footage of the incident that quickly went viral and sparked protests in Anaheim last month.
Ferguson grabbed the teen by the collar and appeared to backpedal while holding him. A large group of teenagers followed, some filming the incident, others demanding Ferguson release their friend. After several tense minutes, another teen rushed at Ferguson, knocking the officer backward over a row of hedges.
In the ensuing struggle, Ferguson drew his firearm and fired a single shot. No one was struck, and Anaheim police said Ferguson fired into the ground, but the sound of the shot sparked panicked screams as the group scattered.
A 13-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats and battery at the scene, Anaheim police have said. A 15-year-old was also arrested on suspicion of battery. Both have since been released.
Ferguson, who was not arrested, joined the LAPD in 2013 and works out of the Hollywood division. He remains on-duty but is not currently working in the field, according to an LAPD spokesman.
Nearly 300 people staged a protest in Anaheim shortly after the video went viral, resulting in some property damage and vandalism at Ferguson’s home. 23 people were arrested.
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said last month he was troubled by the video.
“Like many, I am deeply disturbed and frankly angered by what it shows,” he said of the footage. “The video shows an adult wrestling with a 13-year-old kid and ultimately firing a gun. … It should never have happened.”
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents rank-and-file officers like Ferguson, dismissed the suit as a “shakedown” in a statement Wednesday.
“We hope that this lawsuit determines why multiple young adults chose to physically assault a police officer and what the parents of these young adults could have done to teach their children right from wrong,” the statement read.