Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said Tuesday afternoon that a viral photo many people have held up as an illustration of police brutality is actually an example of child endangerment.
The man in the photo, who is shown holding a small child on his shoulders in front of a police line, needs to be arrested, Luna said.
“That guy was purposefully doing that, and to get the reaction that he did, so that people could talk poorly about the police that were out there trying to do the best job they could under extremely difficult circumstances,” Luna said.
The photo gained national attention after Long Beach’s massive protest on May 31 because, at first glance, it appears to show an officer pointing a foam bullet launcher at the child.
The photographer who took the photo confirmed that the officer in it wasn’t pointing his weapon directly at the man or child when he snapped the picture, but, the man reportedly said he was in the line of fire at times.
During a City Council public safety committee meeting Tuesday, Luna said that the man was intentionally putting himself in front of police weapons. The chief said video footage shows the man walking back in forth in front of the skirmish line, stopping in front of officers whenever they aimed a less-lethal weapon into the crowd of protesters where agitators were throwing items at police.
“We believe when we find this person, he needs to be arrested for endangering a child,” Luna said.
The man in the photo told The Sun newspaper earlier this month that police were in the wrong.
“The officer in the photo—he should not be a cop at all,” he told The Sun, adding that another officer threatened to teargas him and his son.
“A lot of people might think I put my son in danger by being there, but I know I wouldn’t let anything happen to him, and when it started to get really dangerous, we went home,” the man, whom The Sun identified as Dontae Parks, told the newspaper.
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