Loved ones of Anthony Weber, who shot and killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies this week, want answers.
And at an emergency town hall meant to alleviate the strain between Anthony Weber’s family and officials, tensions boiled over.
The meeting at the New Congregational Missionary Baptist Church was led by the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, a nine-person board appointed by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the 16-year-old boy’s father John Weber confronted members of the board with a photograph of his son’s body taken at the scene of the shooting asking, “Where’s the gun?” He then expressed, “I know where the bullets are, they’re right in my baby’s back.”
Shot in the back
On Super Bowl sunday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies reportedly responded to a 911 call in which the caller said that he was afraid for his life when he saw a young man pointing a gun at a motorist. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Bergner said at a news conference said that the responding deputies saw the teenager, who matched the description, and saw that he had a gun tucked into his pants.
Bergner said that Anthony Weber ignored deputies’ commands and ran into an apartment complex that was apparently known to be a gang hideout.
Although the deputies did not identify the victim in the police shooting reportedly because he is a minor, they did insist that they saw a gun on him and said that he was an alleged gang member. They also insisted that witnesses corroborated their account.
ABC7 reports that the teen was later identified by coroner’s officials as Anthony Weber, a resident of the Westmont neighborhood where he was gunned down by police.
Where did the gun go?
The sheriff’s deputies were reportedly not wearing body cameras so there is ongoing debate over whether Weber was in fact armed.
Although deputies claim that witnesses back up their account, other witnesses claimed that the teenager was shirtless and unarmed.
Community activist Kevin Orange told reporters that he knew the teenager and that he saw Weber earlier in the day without a shirt on.
The teen, he said, was with friends celebrating the Super Bowl. He added that he hadn’t ever seen Weber with a gun before and wondered if the deputies had found the wrong suspect.
“This is death alley,” Orange said of his neighborhood. “People do carry guns, not to hurt somebody but to make sure they don’t get hurt.”
As for the missing gun that sheriff’s deputies claim Weber was carrying?
Police insist the teen was armed and they also claim that witnesses must have removed the teen’s gun from the scene. Bergner said that a crowd of 30 or so people descended on the scene after the deadly police shooting.
“While waiting for backup, and trying to control the situation, it’s believed that somebody may have taken the gun that was in the possession of the juvenile at the time of the incident,” Bergner said.
The police shooting of Anthony Weber is now under investigation.
The search for answers
The tense meeting with the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission was laced with echoes and shouts of support from various members of the approximately 150-person audience.
“You killed a 16-year-old!” a man screamed in the tense auditorium.
Tensions continued to rise, eventually boiling over when the boy’s brother, also named John Weber, asked the board if his family was “due something” from law enforcement.
To his question asking for information on how something like this could happen, Captain Christopher Berger responded, “Absolutely not.”
The captain’s flippant response didn’t sit well with many in the audience, some of whom reportedly approached the panel, inciting officials to prematurely end the meeting.
In a statement released after the emotionally charged meeting, the sheriff’s department said due to high volume levels in the room, Captain Berger misheard the question being asked. He allegedly heard, “Don’t you think we are doomed?”
According to the statement, that is the only reason the captain would respond with such a sentiment.
The police shooting of 16-year-old Anthony Weber remains under investigation.