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D.A. vows vigorous probe of fatal Anaheim police shooting

July 26, 2012 |  4:29 pm

Orange County prosecutors vowed a full and vigorous investigation into a controversial officer-involved shooting over the weekend that sparked violent protests in Anaheim.

As many as 1,000 people protested in and around Anaheim City Hall this week calling for justice and for Anaheim police officers to be held accountable in the death of Manuel Diaz, who was shot by police during a foot chase Saturday.

Several months ago, Orange County District Atty. Tony Rackauckas charged a Fullerton officer in the July 2011 beating murder of Kelly Thomas, a homeless mentally ill man, a rare case in which a law enforcement officials was charged in an on-duty killing.

Photos: Protest against Anaheim police shootings

Prosecutors said they are already working the Anaheim case and have asked the public for any video or photos of the incident.

“Our office’s sole role is determine where a criminal act occurred or not,” said Susan Kang Schroeder, the district attorney’s chief of staff.  “If it’s a crime, we’ll prosecute."

The FBI is conducting a review to determine if a civil rights investigation is warranted, said spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. If agents find enough evidence, they will then ask the Justice Department’s civil rights division to initiate a full investigation. But short of charges, no details of the findings will be made public.

Anaheim city officials urged protesters to avoid further violence. They had asked federal officials to review the shooting.

"Anaheim is a strong community and a community that works together to solve its problems," Mayor Tom Tait said at a news conference Wednesday morning. "I think it's important for city officials to hear from people we serve … but violence and vandalism have no part in the conversation."


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--Richard Winton

Photo: Genevieve Huizar, mother of Manuel Diaz, who was shot to death by Anaheim police, speaks at a news conference in Santa Ana, on Wednesday. At right is her daughter, Correna Chavez. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press