ONLY ON ABC7NEWS.COM: SJPD chief apologizes for statement about officer's possible misconduct at protest

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose's police chief apologized Tuesday for his reaction to one of his officers being investigated for possible misconduct during Friday's protest at San Jose City Hall.

"I do sincerely apologize if I seem cavalier with Officer Yuen's actions that were on video," said San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia.

Chief Garcia said he regrets the statement that he made Sunday, about Officer Jared Yuen, who fired projectiles and antagonized the crowd at Friday's protest.

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"I'm not happy with his actions, I'm sure if Jared was sitting here he'd be embarrassed as well. But I will tell you, I know Jared and he's a good kid who made a mistake who let his emotions get the better of him," he said Sunday.

On Tuesday, his follow-up response was, "I should not have said that he's a good kid. Now I know the officer personally, and he's worked very hard for this department... at the end of the day, the actions were unprofessional, they're not going to be tolerated, they're going to be investigated. The officer will be held accountable for his actions."

Scroll to the bottom of this post for the full statement from Chief Garcia.

ABC7 news reporter Kate Larsen's interview with Chief Garcia, came after the Chief saw her story about Tim Harper, a San Jose man who helped carry an injured officer to safety on Friday, only to later get shot with a rubber bullet. Harper says Officer Yuen fired the projectile.

Chief Garcia said he's looking into whether Yuen did in fact fire the rubber bullet that hit Harper. He also called Harper on Tuesday, to thank him for helping the injured officer to safety.

"I honestly was surprised to hear from the chief," said Harper, who still wants to hear from Officer Yuen. "I want the apology from the other officer, not the police chief."

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"Now that I come into the picture, now he has to recant his statement because that officer shot me for no reason. I did nothing to that cop. All I did was try to speak up for a kid who got hit with a projectile," explained Harper about the violence at Friday's protest.
Harper has been at City Hall protesting police brutality for the past four days. "If the police chief wants to make things right around here, come to the protest, take a knee like all the other police chiefs in this country are doing"

Harper is also skeptical that the investigation, being conducted internally at the San Jose Police Department, will result in any action.

"It ain't no secret in this country, police back each other.... So I expect them to sweep stuff under the rug."

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"We're not trying to protect rogue cops by any stretch of the imagination," said Chief Garcia, who says that officer Yuen is on desk duty right now, while the investigation is underway.

Chief Garcia hopes that future law enforcement and criminal justice reform will allow him more control over his own department. "I think there's ways that we can work to tweak the current discipline system in a way that gives police chiefs more latitude to discipline their own.... Unfortunately, it's moments like this, that bring that to life, to have that conversation."

Chief Garcia hopes the investigation into Officer Yuen will be completed soon, but says his department still needs to review hundreds of hours of body camera footage.

Full statement from SJPD Chief Eddie Garcia:

"I did speak with Tim today and thanked him for his actions. I am extremely grateful for him coming to the assistance of our seriously injured officer.
When an officer is on the ground, so injured that they have to be carried out of harm's way, and a citizen steps in to help carry them to safety, that's a big deal.
On Sunday when I spoke about the officer's inappropriate language and actions I was not aware of any force that may or may not have been used.
I regret sounding like I was defending the officer's actions referring to him as a kid and I apologized for that.
We are looking into this and every use of force complaint and we will get to the bottom each encounter and everyone will be held accountable for their actions.
That process will take time as we review hundreds of hours of body camera footage."
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