Anaheim Teen Involved in Altercation with Off-Duty LAPD Officer Files Civil Rights Lawsuit

The 13-year-old Anaheim boy involved in a physical struggle with off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer Kevin Ferguson in February has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Anaheim and the LAPD.

Christian Dorscht claims in his court complaint the dispute began as he and a group of friends were walking home from school and Ferguson used vulgar language to address a female student walking across his lawn.

Dorscht said when he asked Ferguson to address the female student “in a nicer manner,” the officer came off his property, “charging” toward Dorscht and “grabbing his neck, tripping him, and kicking his private area,” according to the complaint.

Cell phone video taken by a bystander shows Dorscht struggling to escape from Ferguson, who was holding onto the boy’s arm and hoodie.

In the video, which does not show the entire altercation, a number of teens urge Ferguson to let go of Dorscht. When one teen tries to pull Dorscht free, another teen shoves Ferguson over a hedge. During the ensuing struggle, the officer pulled a gun from his waistband and a shot is heard, although the video doesn’t clearly show him pulling the trigger.

Dorscht claims the Anaheim Police Department failed to properly respond to the scene when officers hand-cuffed Dorscht and took him into custody, but allowed Ferguson to go free.

The complaint also alleges both the Anaheim and the Los Angeles police departments failed to properly train their departments in the correct use of force.

Reached for comment, both the city of Anaheim and Los Angeles Police Department said they do not comment on ongoing litigation.

The city of Anaheim recently completed its investigation and passed on its materials to the District Attorney’s office, which will determine whether or not to file charges.

“Our thoughts go out to all who were impacted by this incident. We have completed our review of what happened and submitted our findings to the District Attorney’s Office,” said Anaheim city spokesman Mike Lyster in an emailed statement. “We want to respect that process as it plays out.”

Read the full complaint. 

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo. 

  • Gary Bohr

    Even if, as speculated, the kid went above and beyond and mouthed off to the off-duty cop…so what? You don’t have a right to put hands on someone because they said something that hurt your feelings or offended your sense of propriety. You definitely don’t have a right to chase him down (kind of hard to be a threat when he’s running away), attempt a kidnapping, pull a weapon, and fire that weapon because you may have been called out by a disrespectful kid.

    The fact this cop had a loaded gun tucked in his waistband gangsta’ style shows something about his mindset. Did he already have it on him because he was looking to pick a fight? Did he have to retrieve it from his vehicle/house and then chase the kid down? If the reports about the cop having been drinking are correct then he shouldn’t have been in possession of a weapon (gunpowder and alcohol don’t mix!) when his judgment was impaired.

    Ferguson was not in uniform. There’s no evidence he showed a badge. How was anybody to know they weren’t witnessing a kidnapping? Most states allow a person to use force up to and including deadly force to fight off a kidnapping–so it appears the kids were in the right. Ferguson may have claimed he was a cop, but how were any of those kids to know if he was on the level?

  • JMM

    “…the Anaheim Police Department failed to properly respond
    to the scene when officers hand-cuffed Dorscht and took him into
    custody, but allowed Ferguson to go free.”

    Amen, brother. Finally someone is asking why the Anaheim police officers responded as they did.

  • Ray Gibb

    IF the story played out the way the kids said it did, why did they not start videoing much sooner? I am sorry but there is no way that I am going to believe that the kid talked respectfully to the adult. This because of personal experience with teenagers in Orange County – Anaheim, Garden Grove, Fullerton, Stanton, etc. maybe if we were talking New Port Beach, or other Southern Orange County parts of Huntington Beach maybe, but very doubtful in Anaheim.

    Secondly, was this a routine where these kids traipsed across his front yard on their way home from school, and he has told them to stay out of his yard over and over again? We have no idea. But I have a very hard time believing the kids story otherwise the video would have been from the very beginning when the off duty cop was “using vulgar language” to the young lady.

    OK another question, law suit happy attorneys galore, yet it takes to the end of June to file a complaint from an incident that occured in February? Something does not smell right here.

    • Tell me Ray, should teenagers automatically assume adults will address them in a foul manner and always keep their cell phones ready to record video? Personally it takes me almost a full minute, maybe longer, to start recording. think about it, take a phone from pocket, enter password, select record video which may be confusing as most teens seem to send more selfies than videos. Think about this, perhaps the teen was awaiting the city officials to do the right thing before deciding to go to court.

      • Ray Gibb

        You obviously do not know teenagers. First their Phones are in their pockets 2% of the time the rest of the time they are in their hands. Second, teenager do not lock their phones with passwords. Third, this situation, the kid filming had gotten away from the cops, so I guarantee his phone was in hand and recording as he ran to the street.

        MAybe you should consider this! As far as him waiting for the Officials to do the right thing, that is a whole lot of BS. I know teenagers are looking for ways to get money, Parents are looking for ways to get money. In this situation, he was a white or hispanic cop, and the kid was black, the one filming was white, he showed his hand and arm to make sure that people could see that. So with a copy of that video, if all there was was what went on the internet and to the media, I can give you the name of a couple of hundred OC Attorneys that would have been breaking down the family door trying to get the case. So the fact that that was not the case, and it took so long, gives me a very good reason to have enough probable cause to let the officer walk free and go back to work.

        The other thing that you may want to consider, he is a cop, they were on his property, what are the chances that he has video surveillance of his property, and that video was given to internal affairs as well as other investigating agencies and that is why there was no action against the officer.

        When you see these “PArtial Videos” online, you need to ask yourself, 1 – “Did they really just start recording then? 2 – Where is the rest of the footage, the footage leading up to the published portion? 3 – What if the officer had been black as well, would this still have gotten any notice, or even been made?” these are just three of many questions you need to ask yourself before you rush to judgement pro or con. I do that on every single one of these videos that come my way. It is interesting sometimes I will research it enough that I will actually find “that portion that was never recorded” and in those cases are the ones where the officer is acquitted of ANY and ALL wrong doing and sent back to work. I am writing from legal experience as a paralegal, as well as a former clerk of the courts.

        I am not saying that the cop was not a little rough, but remember the kid had just been in a fight, he was fleeing the Police, so his heart was racing and the adrenalin was flowing, so he had more fight in him than if he had just been walking down the street and had decided to cut through the guys yard.

        Also like I said I have had personal experience with the youth in Anaheim and I would have to say of the so called minority youth 85% that I have had encounters with had attitudes, and because I am white came off like I owed them and they could do what they wanted. So I have a hard time not siding with this officer just for this reason alone.

      • Ray Gibb

        I have had personal experience with the youth in Orange County, the youth in Fullerton, Anaheim, Garden Grove, Stanton, and area around these where the gangs are prevalent are not respectful to adults 85% or the time.

        I am not saying all of the kids are bad, but there are more that are than are not. Another thing is the Officer is white the kid(s) is/are black, and 9 out of 10 times the kid(s) have an attitude right off the bat.

        I do not know if you have a teenager, if you have ever watched teenagers, or any thing BUT, one thing I have witnessed and have been amazed by, is IF the phone is not in the kids hand, how quick it is there and the kid is either texting or videoing in 10 seconds or less.

        Most kids do not lock their phones, most kids have their cameras at the ready, for that perfect selfie moment, or for that perfect video of a friend doing something stupid where they stand a 90% chance of getting hurt. So to say it would have taken a minute or longer to pull the phone out and start videoing is not realistic.

        Also EVEN if it did take 1 minute to get the phone out and camera rolling, you can not tell me that the officer had the kid on the ground and holding him down in 60 seconds. That would mean he ran out of the house and tackled the kid! We know that is not the case, as there was a discussion prior, and we know that from the complaint filed.

        So from the video, and from the complaint, and from the amount of time it took to file the suit, I do not believe the kid, and if I was a member of a jury, with what we have been I would have to side with the officer. Now if there is more video, (which I am willing to bet that there is) and if that video shows the kid talking respectfully to the officer, then maybe I would have a change of heart, but for me, if that video were to give the kid a step up, I guarantee it would have been posted with the rest of it.

        This video was out within days of the incident, if the kid truly had a case, then one of the hundred+ Vultures, I mean Attorneys in Orange County would have been all over it, and the pressure on the family would not have let them wait until June to file. The fact that it took till June truly makes me question it as well.

        • JMM

          This lawsuit is contending 2 things:
          1. Anaheim police failed to properly respond to the scene when officers hand-cuffed Dorscht and took him into custody but allowed Ferguson to go free.
          2. Anaheim and LAPD failed to properly train their departments in the
          correct use of force.

          Neither of those things have anything to do with:
          –Whose version of the story is true. Everyone agrees that Ferguson shot a gun into an unarmed crowd of schoolkids and everyone agrees that he wasn’t arrested at the scene but Dorscht was. Those are the only 2 things relevant to the suit.
          –How many times the kids walked on Ferguson’s dad’s grass (it wasn’t Ferguson’s). But for the record, Ferguson said “other” kids had walked on the grass before, but not these kids. And he isn’t claiming that Dorscht walked on the grass at all. Everyone agrees that Dorscht didn’t walk on the grass.
          –When the videos started. There are lots, though, and some start
          earlier than the one you describe. Plus there are a lot of 911 calls and
          independent witnesses who didn’t have time to collude. One of the
          witnesses is Ferguson’s dad, who is on video asking him to stop.
          –How long it took Dorscht to sue. However, the police report wasn’t completed until about 10 days before this suit was announced, so it’s reasonable to think the lawyers waited for all the facts to come in for review.

          As for your doubts about Christian’s truthfulness, let me just say:
          –These kids are not in gangs. They are schoolchildren walking home from school.
          –None of the schoolkids had anything close to weapons or drugs. They had homework and textbooks.
          –Christian Dorscht isn’t black. There were about 17 schoolkids of different ethnicities walking home that day.
          –I already mentioned that there are other videos that start earlier,
          but also some kids were too busy calling 911 to start videotaping.
          –Ferguson didn’t need to run out of the house because he was already out of the house. He was standing next to his car parked on the street, drinking beer. With a gun, unholstered and loaded, in his waistband.

          I mean, it’s cool that you have gang experience and you know the hoods and all, but that really has nothing to do with a drunk, armed, off-duty cop and a bunch of neighborhood kids walking a few blocks home from school on a sunny afternoon. Right?

          • Ray Gibb

            You obviously have more to work with than I do, so I will have to contend that you are correct. The article said it was Ferguson’s yard, and made no mention that he was out in the yard drinking.

            This is the reason you can not make a judgement call from what is placed on the Internet. The back story is not being told, and many of the very important facts are left out. Thank you for the additional information. With these facts it changes things.

            However I am still curious about the gun going off, as it appeared to me his hand was tangled in the bush and was trying to pull free when it went off.

            Also I have not heard anything about what decision was made about the officer since the investigation, has any of that been released?

          • Thanks for the inside facts I was not even aware of. My friend owns a business next to Los Alamitos HS. No it is not Anaheim, Stanton, or BP but not terribly different. The youth are for the greater part quite respectful. The man sponsors school events as he can afford, a former business next door to his treated the youths as I will guess Mr Gibb does chasing non paying people away like stray dogs, the yogurt business went broke within the first year as the teens did not frequent it my friends business grows more each year. Teens are human beings when treated with common respect they act in turn all children have a strong sense of right & wrong, and when they see something wrong they act out…