Amended Anaheim police shooting lawsuit identifies officer


Manuel Diaz was fatally shot by a police officer on July 21. Police said Diaz failed to heed orders, threw something as he fled from police, then was killed when he reached toward his waistband. Police contended he was armed. A subsequent investigation found that Diaz was unarmed.

Diaz's family amended a lawsuit against the city to include the name of the officer who fired the fatal shot. He was identified in the lawsuit as Nick Bennallack.

One of the family's attorneys, Dana Douglas, said in a statement: "We have repeatedly asked the city of Anaheim and the police department to take this officer off the streets while the district attorney investigates the Diaz shooting.

"Despite the fact that investigations by the FBI, district attorney and police department are still ongoing, this officer was put back on the street less than two weeks after he shot and killed Manuel Diaz.

"This man should not be on the streets carrying a gun, he should be in jail awaiting trial. He is a violent cop: he belongs to a fight club, is nicknamed 'Buckshot,' and he shot an unarmed man in the back of the head."

Diaz's shooting was the first of two fatal officer-involved shootings in July that sparked rowdy demonstrations in the streets of Anaheim against police, resulting in significant property damage.

Douglas is part of Douglas, Lopez and Rumm LLP. The law firm announced Tuesday it would also represent two other parties related to Anaheim Police Department incidents in a lawsuit against the city of Anaheim and the department.

Bernie Villegas, 37, was fatally shot in his back yard holding his son's BB gun on January 7. The claim and lawsuit allege that after receiving a call regarding a possibly armed individual, police swarmed into the area behind the residence and shot and killed Villegas as he stood talking to friends. The lawsuit claims that Villegas was gunned down without being given an opportunity to surrender the BB gun to police.

A claim was filed Tuesday against the city of Anaheim alleging police officers abused and threatened an Anaheim resident when they went to her door seeking her brother, who was on probation. When she wouldn't let them in her house without a warrant, she was allegedly threatened with arrest and mistreatment. The woman fell to the ground in medical distress. The lawsuit alleges police unlawfully entered her residence and searched it, finding nothing. She was hospitalized after the encounter.

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