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.
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