The wrongful death lawsuit against Anaheim, the city's police chief and a cop who killed an unarmed, fleeing Latino suspect in July has been transferred from Orange County Superior Court to the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna.
Originally filed in state court on Oct. 9, the lawsuit by relatives of deceased 24-year-old Manuel Diaz cites negligence, negligent hiring and deprivation of civil rights under the color of law. Damages of $50 million are sought for a killing that helped spark a summer of angry, anti-police brutality protests in Anaheim.
The plaintiffs allege that the Diaz killing is an example of excessive force.
In response, lawyers for Anaheim, Chief John Welter and Officer Nick Bennallack, who fired the fatal shots, have told Judge Selna that the killing was justified after Diaz, a parolee, “willfully, maliciously, unlawfully and wrongfully interfered with the lawful orders of a police officer and purposefully resisted detention.”
Steven J. Rothans and Jill Williams, the lawyers representing Anaheim, also wrote, “The conduct of defendant's employee (police officers) was in the interests of officer safety, self-defense, defense of others and in defense of property.”
According to Rothans and WIlliams, the lawsuit should be barred because the plaintiffs have not complied with state and federal rules to bring wrongful death cases against police.
Both sides are demanding a jury trial inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, but no date has been set.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; earned six dozen other reporting awards; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; won inclusion in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting for his coverage of a white supremacist’s senseless murder of a beloved Vietnamese refugee; launched multi-year probes that resulted in the FBI arrests and convictions of the top three ranking members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; and gained praise from New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.