VIDEO: Officials say officers were assaulted in 'East Side Water Wars'

Body Cam footage from East Lubbock Water Wars
Published: Jun. 4, 2018 at 3:20 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 6, 2018 at 11:31 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - After nearly five million views and thousands of comments and shares, the report from the Lubbock Police Department says two officers were assaulted on Saturday, June 2 during a neighborhood water gun fight.

Officers were called to a neighborhood in the 2600 block of East Baylor in Lubbock for a civil disturbance. The event flyer says the event was called "East Side Water Wars: The Purge" and the battleground was in East Lubbock in the 79403 and 79404 zip codes. The event was to last from 1 p.m. until 10 p.m. The flyer said "any water weapon" was allowed.

Residents say the event has been in the works for months and it was meant to bring people of the East side together.

"It was just meant for a day to come out and have fun just throw water," resident Donathon Miller said.

It worked. Hundreds of people from the neighborhood came together to have fun, but this event caused some problems.

The officers were called to the area after 31 complaints that people were throwing water balloons at vehicles on Parkway Dr. and blocking vehicles in the neighborhoods.

The police report said two officers responded. One officer reported she told the crowd to have fun, but stay out of the roadway. As she was walking back to her police unit, she felt water on her back, then numerous people began squirting her with water and throwing water balloons. She reported she was pushed by someone as he ran by. She felt more water and saw a person running away from her, laughing and holding a water gun. She gave chase, but tripped and slid in the mud on her stomach. She stood up and walked back to her vehicle while people were still squirting her and throwing water at her. A full bucket of water and the bucket was thrown at her by another person.

Residents say this is an event that was turned negative after the video of the incident went viral. The video sits at five million views and over 100,000 shares. They say the event was a positive thing for the community.

"We just were having fun, you usually get calls from people breaking into houses here on the east side," Miller said. "That day our community was calm and we all came together to have fun, adults and kids."

"What the water war did is that it brought a community that has suffered so many different losses, so many push backs, together. There was no bloods, no crips, there was no fighting, no shooting, none of those incidents happened. What happened was we came together and had a great time."

Says Braunshea Norris, a resident of East Lubbock.

Hundreds of people coming together to have fun. Something this community says they haven't seen in a while.

"The whole idea of the whole event was for the family and community to come together," resident Donnell Hooper said. " That's what happened and it was a positive thing."

Lubbock Police released the body cam footage of the situation.

The report says the officer tried to call for backup but couldn't because her radio was soaked with water. She had mud and water on her clothing, her vest, in her handgun, radio, taser and magazines.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the area, the other officer was also being squirted with water. A plastic trashcan was thrown at him and another person threw a bucket of water on him.

Both officers say that once backup arrived, the crowd dispersed. The officers were not injured in the event.

The police report says:

S1, S2, S3, S4, and numerous other subjects assaulted V1 (female officer) and V2 (male officer) by means of physical contact and unwanted touching. S1, S2, S3, S4, and numerous other subjects caused unknown damage to V1 and V2's property, electronics, firearms and other work-related items. During the chaos, officers backed away until backup arrived. The above-listed subjects were not located. 

Lubbock City Councilwoman Sheila Patterson-Harris has not returned any of KCBD's phone calls or requests for a statement.

Mayor Dan Pope issued a statement:

I fully support our Lubbock Police Department, and I commend the police officers who responded to the incident.  These officers demonstrated a calm and respectful approach in their efforts to resolve the situation.  The restraint they showed is notable.  Unfortunately, a few individuals chose to escalate the situation.  I believe this isolated incident does not represent the majority of our community, who I believe treat our law enforcement officers with courtesy and respect.

Officials with the Lubbock Police Department released a statement Monday afternoon about the incident.

Police Chief Greg Stevens says during the hours of the event, officers responded to at least 58 calls for service in the Parkway neighborhood in east Lubbock. Those calls were related to reports of individuals throwing water balloons and shooting "super soaker" type water guns at each other and passing vehicles, along with reports of multiple streets blocked as a "water war" occurred throughout the neighborhood.

"We received further reports of some property and businesses damaged and residents harassed during the "water fight" event, which was referred to as "the purge" on social media.

"Specifically, we received at least one report of a windshield cracked and several people being unwittingly drenched as they drove or walked down the street.  These calls for service were reported to police by residents and business owners who could not enjoy the peace and quiet of their neighborhood and drive freely down their streets. 

"Officers responding to the numerous calls for service early in the day were met with courtesy and cooperation from participants they encountered as they requested them to only engage with other participants and stay out of the roadways.  However, at about 7 o'clock in the evening, two LPD officers, prior to being on watch, responded to the 2600 block of East Baylor for one of the calls for service.  They responded to the call on their way to work because the call had been holding for some time because other officers were not available to respond. Upon arrival, the officers located dozens of participants blocking traffic, throwing water balloons and shooting water guns at passersby who were not participants in the "water fight" event.  After observing the chaos which almost completely blocked the 2600 block of East Baylor, the two officers began to work to disperse the crowds.

"After an initial walkthrough of the area and some compliance by multiple people, both officers began to return to their separate vehicles, at which point both were sprayed multiple times with water, hit with water balloons and had buckets/trash cans of water dumped on them.  Each also had trash cans/buckets thrown at them as they retreated from the area.  One of the officers was pushed by an unknown person and was then hit in the face with water.  The officer turned and attempted to catch the suspect who assaulted her; however, the officer lost her footing and fell.  In the process of that assault, the officer's radio was rendered inoperable due to the amount of water thrown at the officer, leaving her unable to call for backup.

"The other officer was able to make it back to his vehicle and finish dispersing the crowd by activating his lights and siren on his police vehicle while traveling to the aid of his fellow officer.  He was able to call for additional units which responded to the scene, and eventually, the entire crowd on East Baylor was dispersed with no use of force by any of the involved officers.  After the crowd was dispersed, one of the officers had to temporarily go out of service in order to clean and dry her equipment and put on a fresh uniform, leaving the Parkway neighborhood short-staffed for a period of time.

"Detectives are conducting follow up investigations regarding the assault of the officers, as well as criminal mischief and other related issues to determine if the filing of charges will be appropriate.

"On Saturday, several LPD officers responded to calls from good people in one of Lubbock's most historic and well-established neighborhoods as they faced a difficult circumstance with numerous people acting poorly and unruly toward residents and motorists.  Most of those involved were respectful of the officers and cooperated fully.   Unfortunately, a small number of individuals failed to cooperate with the lawful and non-confrontational requests of the responding officers.  Their actions, of course, do not represent how any larger community engages with LPD officers during such encounters.

"I applaud the professionalism and restraint shown by each of the responding officers, especially the two who were assaulted during this event.  They were faced with an extremely difficult situation; however, they remained calm and performed their job diligently, solving the problem at hand without resorting to any use of force.

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