The man who was seen behaving in a strange manner and recording audio at a CopWatch Santa Ana (CWSA) “Know Your Rights” workshop at a youth conference, turned out to be a SAUSD PD Sargent.
According to some CWSA members who were present at the workshop at Valley High School in Santa Ana, last Saturday, the man “seemed nervous; he wouldn’t look up and his eyes were fixed on his cellphone”. The workshop included a testimonial of a 13-year-old girl who appears sitting on the curb after being detained by a school police officer, on a video that went viral a few days ago.
The young female talked about her experience with police officers that have been harassing and verbally abusing her, ever since she entered MC Fadden Intermediate School last year.
As the presenters were finishing the workshop, the man quickly exited the room through a back door. A CWSA ally followed him outside where the man noticed him and started to walk to the cafeteria and “looked back to watch his back at least twice” according to the unidentified supporter. Later on, the rest of the CWSA group tried to look for him, but he was nowhere to be found.
The way in which the identity of the “mysterious” man was going to be revealed couldn’t have been more unexpected.
Tuesday evening, members of CopWatch Santa Ana and The Rebel Press accompanied the girl and her father and brother, who requested they be anonymous, to a SAUSD PTA meeting, where they would bring up the issue and talk to a Sargent who was scheduled to give a presentation to the parents.
About half an hour into the meeting, Sargent Manuel Chavez showed up and turned out to be none other than the sneaky man at the workshop.
He was immediately recognized by the girl's family, CWSA and TRP members.
Sgt. Chavez began his presentation by talking about the recent school shooting in Connecticut and how to prevent this type of occurrences.
The officer asked the crowd if anyone had any questions. The young girl's father, asked Sgt. Chavez what could be done about officers who abuse their authority and mistreat students. Sgt. Chavez gave a brief answer. “There’s a process. You have the right to contact the officer’s supervisor and file a formal complaint.”
Not satisfied with the answer, the brother said he didn’t feel like complaints did much and then asked what else could be done, to which the Sargent replied, “There’s a process. Because of the officer’s position, he has certain rights that protect him against an investigation, nevertheless; the investigation is still conducted. Our department is transparent. When we do an investigation we try to find the truth. It’s a transparent investigation.” He stated.
The girl's father then mentioned the undercover officer who attended the workshop his daughter had participated in. Visibly nervous Sgt. Chavez said he had to wrap it up because he had, conveniently, received a call to attend a “board meeting”. He passed his business cards around and left without first reassuring his office was open to “assist and help” anyone who needed it.
At the end of the meeting members of CWSA and The Rebel Press looked for Sgt. Chavez at the board meeting he said he was attending and were told that he had left.
Through a confidential source we found out Sgt. Chavez doesn’t live in Santa Ana and doesn’t have any kids who attend any of the schools in the Santa Ana Unified School District.
According to information released by the SAUSD in 2010, then police officer Manuel Chavez, “with over 10 years of experience including various field operations assignments, gang suppression and vice enforcement, was promoted to the rank of sergeant.” Among his duties are listed supervising the school resource officers and the investigations division.
His business card also describes him as an “Administrative Sergeant and Adjutant to Chief of Police.”