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Jury rejects excessive-force claim in fatal Anaheim police shooting

Genevieve Huizar, mother of Manuel Diaz, who was shot and killed by police on July 21, 2012, holds a protest in front of the central courthouse in Santa Ana Thursday, March 21, 2013.

March 6, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
A federal jury rejected claims of excessive force Thursday in a case of a fatal shooting by an Anaheim police officer that led to riots in the city in 2012.

Genevieve Huizar sued the city of Anaheim and Anaheim police officer Nicholas Bennallack after her son, alleged gang member Manuel Diaz, was fatally shot on July 21, 2012. She was seeking $3- to $5-million in damages.

Diaz, 25, was unarmed when he was shot outside an apartment complex. Officers said he failed to heed orders and threw something as he ran away. Diaz had a criminal record.

The next night, suspected gang member Joel Acevedo was fatally shot after a pursuit. Police said Acevedo had fired at officers.

The two shootings sparked four days of demonstrations in the city, some of which turned violent. Property was damaged.

The jury found that the force used against Diaz was not excessive or unreasonable.

The Orange County District Attorney's Office cleared Bennallack in the shooting.

City Attorney Michael Houston said the city has worked hard to heal from the upheaval that ensued after the shootings. Anaheim has created a public safety review board, and police officers meet regularly with residents to hear their concerns, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.