Apparently in fear for his life, a cop pulled a gun on a group of 30 to 50 people in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday night as crowds protested the killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. According to a California Highway Patrol chief, Avery Browne, the plainclothes detective, caught on camera by a freelance photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle, was walking with his partner after reports of looting at a T-Mobile store when "an individual accused one of our employees or recognized him as being a police officer." Browne says a protester attacked and punched the officer's partner—who is reportedly showing concussion symptoms—and when a badge and baton didn't stop the circling crowd, the detective drew his gun, Browne tells the Los Angeles Times.
The freelance photographer, however, says no badge appeared. "Somebody snatched a hat off the shorter [officer]'s head" and "a guy ran up behind him, knocked him down on the ground," he says. Though the sight of a gun is "very disturbing," Browne says "no one has provided any evidence that the officers were inappropriate in what they did." He adds the officer who pulled his weapon told him, "I didn't know if we were going to make it out alive." The crowd dispersed seconds later as Oakland police arrived. A suspect was booked on suspicion of assault; police say they're looking for a woman who kicked the punched officer in the head. Browne tells the Chronicle undercover officers will continue to monitor protests "to keep the public safe." (Read more protests stories.)