Judge Blocks Trial For Fatal Police Shooting, Sticks Victim's Family With Cop's Legal Bill

AnaheimPoliceRiotSign.jpg
Beware unarmed, Anaheim police protester: Cops will claim they mistook your Disney sign for a gun, kill you, demand immunity from public scrutiny and then win support from reality suspending, country club OC judges
Anaheim's Bernie Cervantes Villegas held the barrel end of a BB rifle when police officers approached him in January 2012, complied with commands to raise his arms and was nevertheless shot five times and killed though he never pointed the weapon at cops or grabbed for the trigger.

Officers "high-fived" each other after the shooting, according to a defense witness.

That's the version defense lawyers presented in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the trigger-happy shooter, Anaheim officer Nick Bennallack, who six months later also executed an unarmed Manuel Diaz by shooting him in the butt and back of the head.

According to court records, the cop--affectionately called "Buckshot Bennallack" by fellow officers and "Backshot Bennallack" by angry residents--demanded that a jury never see crime scene photographs of the gruesome results of his five shots because jurors might become nauseous by the overkill.

This week inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney ordered Villegas' surviving family members to pay Anaheim PD's legal bills after refusing to let the lawsuit go to a future jury because, in his view, even if the plaintiff's version of events is accurate, the cop acted "reasonably" in fear for his life.

By law, the judge is required to view the plaintiff's claims in the most favorable light before concluding there is no case worthy of reaching a jury.

But contrary to the aforementioned requirement Carney dutifully regurgitated the police story as pure gospel to make his decision, a shamelessly arrogant move worthy of Ninth Circuit appellate court scrutiny.

The ruling by the 2003 George W. Bush appointee is a triple whammy for Villegas' family: They were left with more than $100,000 in medical bills and funeral costs after the killing; They're blocked from the right to have a jury consider their complaint for damages; and now they will collect the legal bill from the department that killed their loved one.

None of the other cops at the scene with Bennallack thought they needed to fire their weapons even once.

In March, a federal jury rejected the lawsuit filed the estate of Diaz against Bennallack.

After the 2012 killings of Villegas, Diaz and Joel Matthew Acevedo, city residents concerned about police excessive force protested.

The police stress that all men were known criminals.

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Email: rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @RScottMoxley.

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86 comments
Charlie
Charlie

So...if they see someone they arrested ten years ago walking down the street, can they just open fire upon sight regardless simply because "known criminal"?  This is the most absurd justification I've ever seen.  Under the constitution, just because you've broken the law in the past, that cannot be used as evidence that you committed a wholly separate crime.  This "justification" is so unconstitutional that it boggles the sane mind.

rodney.vero
rodney.vero

Soon, there will be 'one of these too many'.  One too many 1%'er's kid who murders someone and gets away with it due to "affluenza".  One too many innocent citizens killed by the "legal mafia", the police.  One too many guys with hands cuffed behind their back in the backseat of a cop car that ends up "shooting himself".  One too many judges mandating something against the laws the rest of us have to follow.  What will happen?  One day, one injustice too many, and some insane person is gonna SNAP!  Somebody a little less insane will then SNAP as well, and we will then hear the SNAPPING of the rolling snowball called: "WE'VE HAD ENOUGH" and, I fear, after a LOT of bloodshed, the pendulum of what's right/wrong will swing back towards the middle...  I'm not crazy, but I'm getting darn sick/tired of the injustices of it all...

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

"The courts are corrupt and so are the police and judges".

I read something recently that said that 65 percent of the judges in Orange

County are assholes because they are already rich.

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

"Judges are nothing more than lawyers in black robes that are appointed by someone else to the bench and it's illegal to legislate from the bench".

"I have absolutely no influence over the proceedings that occur in these courtrooms". - An OC Judge (overheard while I was sitting in the public area.)

"According to court records, the cop--affectionately called "Buckshot Bennallack" by fellow officers and "Backshot Bennallack" by angry residents--demanded that a jury never see crime scene photographs of the gruesome results of his five shots because jurors might become nauseous by the overkill".

He murdered people while on duty and got paid for it because he's a police officer.

Juan Alonso
Juan Alonso

Whos worse tj cops or california pds?

lafayebreon
lafayebreon

Put this judge's ass on blast! We have to stop thinking these paid off thugs in a robe are Gods. Someone please tell this family to turn this "robed" thug to Justice Department. These robes have gone from white to black, from the late night raids to daytime court houses. Fight back!

Jason Poredi
Jason Poredi

This can only go on for so long. Pretty soon people are gonna turn into vigilantes

Karen Estephany
Karen Estephany

Alex jones lol you report on dirty cops and then "hot people" at coachella lmao! Ya maybe I should go to his site. You generalize the police as all bad so often it's very biased. I'm sure you all aren't saints. I grew up in Anaheim and there are bad people everywhere not just police. Let's start with politicians !

OC Weekly
OC Weekly

We only hate the dirty cops—you can look it up!

InsightGiver
InsightGiver

What does everyone think about this movie plot? I want to write a screenplay...

All the Gangs in a certain community/County agree to not fight each other for just one month. Instead they team up and begin fighting the system (Police).

Instead of hearing about innocent teenagers being shot and killed over drugs, It would be about taking the streets back from police. Would You Watch It?

InsightGiver
InsightGiver

Funny how the police think they're the only ones with sniper rifles.

My opinion is that it's a matter of time before people start holding the police accountable, especially when it's THEIR families involved.

The days of people shooting up innocent kids at schools and movie theaters is gonna change dramatically. The police are ASKING to become targets. (and most of the time this is controlled by their superiors who pressure them for results, the judges just do whatever it takes to clear them of wrong doing because it's all about $$$)

Don't have to be Nostradamus to see this coming!

Tommy Walas
Tommy Walas

Anacrime is no different than the world at large. Criminals on all sides. Who can we trust for the Truth? just as I typed truth this popped up onto my Facebook in highlighted blue... kinda creepy, i wonder what it is Truth Movement

Chris J Caroselli
Chris J Caroselli

..Yet Gustavo claims he has "many friends" on the Anaheim Police Department.

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney steps out from behind the Orange Curtain.

Maybe this bold judge can figure out how this victim of 17+ years of criminal cop harassment (up to and including attempted murder) got convicted of using a "false name and/or DOB" and only fully realized it after receiving a "terms of probation" letter from Orange County Superior court. Maybe he can figure out why OC sheriffs deputies and Anaheim PD cops keep referring to me by a different name. I tried asking Tony Rackauckas to his face at an Anaheim city council meeting once but chicken little hasn't responded to me. What say you Mr. Carney?

Susan Garcia
Susan Garcia

Things like this cause Officer to get killed.. Karma will get this officer.. god bless the family of the dead victims..

BBAIN
BBAIN

Amen to that!  Nice to have some conservative judges who stop these frivolous lawsuits from clogging up the courts.  Whether the shooting was justified - who cares?  Bottom line - my taxes shouldn't pay for punitive damages becuase an incompetent police officer makes a mistake.  Funny thing - I'd be willing to bet that the "victim"'s family pays no income taxes.  Take, take, take, but never give.  Reading this article puts a smile on my face - ear to ear baby!

Benjamin Shelley
Benjamin Shelley

corrupt fuckers! all them! the cops and this fucking judge.

darthere
darthere

I am sure they said more then "Justified", but you chose to leave out a clearer explanation in your story. By slanting the story in one direction, you lose journalistic credibility. This isn’t reporting, it is an opinion piece and should be listed as such


I think you might have noted that before this even got to the Judge, the Police and the DA decided that “the cop acted reasonably in fear for his life”. 


Strike 3 your out

rbam821
rbam821

I thought maybe it was just me but I see someone else comment on the OC Weekly hate for police and bias towards criminals...mind bottling? I wouldn't have expected such from anything OC.

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

@InsightGiver

Probably yes, because it is well known that in any given city at any given time the police do not have enough manpower available to handle a major situation and that they would have to call out the National Guard in order to quell the situation. I'd be happy to get involved with a project like this. The police in LA ran away from the situation at the time of the Rodney King riots back in 1993.

BBAIN
BBAIN

@18usc241 Dude - you post the same nonsense everyday.  If you don't like it here in America, you are free to live elsewhere.  Also - you must be making bank to have the ability to loiter around on the weekly all day, every day and post your anti-police nonsense.  I would say get a life, but apparently you already have one.

rscottmoxley
rscottmoxley topcommenter

@18usc241Given his history, Judge Carney might be more sympathetic if you were an ultra-wealthy, white collar criminal from Newport Coast, an unrepentant pimp from Long Beach or, as this case underscores, a trigger-happy cop in Anaheim.

rscottmoxley
rscottmoxley topcommenter

@BBAIN Yeah, police-state mentality! BBAIN, you're a genius worthy of America's Founding Fathers! And, like you say, how come this crummy Republican judge didn't also charge the victim's family for the full, retail cost of the five, expended bullets? The fine folks running the government in communist China wouldn't be such pussies, right, BBain?

downtownbrown
downtownbrown

@darthere "Journalistic credibility" has never had a place at the Weakly.  It's all about tha clix.

roman_archer
roman_archer

@rbam821 "mind bottling"? Really? Maybe that's why your post was so poorly articulated. Your mind is all bottled up.

rbam821
rbam821

@mikeknowles I agree....cities are always so quick to pay off these so called "victims". finally a city/department with some balls! people always looking to make a quick payday no matter what the circumstances are. Maybe this will start a new trend of cities/departments taking a stand and backing up the officers. Now maybe these "Victims" won't be so quick to try and make a quick payday when they realize they may very well end up being the one's that are paying!

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

"If you don't like it here in America, you are free to live elsewhere"

I've mentioned this before but it's worth repeating. This latino American man was born in one of the original 13 colonies. The accent that you can detect in my English is similar to the accent of the founding fathers of this nation. So on behalf of myself, the American people and the founding father's - go fuck yourself.

Thank you,

German Santos

American

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

I just want the name of the judge who signed an order which gave license to four Orange County CA police leadership generations across three separate decades to harass me starting around the time I began working on surveillance state engineering projects in Bogota, Colombia on behalf of an American company based in Stanton, CA.

Stop stalling. Maybe Carney can help.

BBAIN
BBAIN

@rscottmoxley @BBAIN ?? So what do you suggest genius?  Give them a multi-million settlement at my expense?  Is it somehow my fault that this cockroach decided to walk around on the streets with a BB gun.  You've read the police report, I haven't.  Was the guy walking around intoxicated?  Was he firing the BB gun prior to the police arriving?  Was he threatening people with it?  The way you write it - it certainly leaves a lot open to interpretation.  BTW - how much do you make?  I generally like your articles, I'll concede... but are you pulling in 6 figs?  Are you a millionaire?  Just curious.

rscottmoxley
rscottmoxley topcommenter

@GustavoArellano @darthereYeah, sure, brave "darthere": If the police department "clears" one of its own in an unnecessary killing of a man holding the barrel of a BB gun, then citizens and journalists should stand and salute! PS--The article is entirely factual. You just can't handle the truth.

policestate24
policestate24

@rbam821 @mikeknowlesYeah, its great news.  Cops get to shoot anybody whenever they want without penalty.  Wonderful!  God I hope they kill that Mike Knowles guy soon.

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

I had an engineering career idiot and your law enforcement community used your taxpayer money to destroy it. That's why this Latino has every right to lay waste to Orange County, CA law enforcement's reputation. Think of it as my new career.

You know this County acts as if the original city fathers were members of the KKK or something. Oh, wait a minute.

lafayebreon
lafayebreon

The "seed" that you plant is the fruit your life will bear..I claim that for you...watch and see. God/karma will take care of you...take care.

BBAIN
BBAIN

@rscottmoxley @BBAINHmm Hmm interesting choice of words.  You like using the word "bark" I have seen.  Just wait till you see my Yorkie named Bella... she will bark for the both of us.  I think you have me all wrong... I'm not pro-police.  In fact, I've had a couple of run-ins when I was in college, circa late 90's with the SB County sheriff's department and city of SB cops .  I acknowledge that cops can be dicks.  All I'm suggesting is that you're clearly leaving out the details from the cop's side.  


So from what you're suggesting from your story... the guy was walking down the street - never been in trouble with the law before, minding his own business, didn't have any gang tatoos, completely quiet, just happened to have a BB gun in his hand.  The cops then rolled by and happened to  see a BB gun, then popped 5 capps in him.  Is that right?  He'd never been in trouble with the police before, wasn't a gang member, etc?  Was he a computer engineer or CPA, lawyer, or doctor, who just happened to be off that day?  Forgive my comments if he just happened to be a MBA or PHD who just happened to be off...


But seriously, why carry a BB gun around in public? Especially the areas that cops frequent.  ??? I continue to get the impression that this dude was a habitual troublemaker.  Too bad he had to die, but dude - don't fuck with cops, you agree??

rscottmoxley
rscottmoxley topcommenter

@BBAIN @rscottmoxley You pretend to know details of this case, but yet you've now made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to form any coherent argument. The federal court record you are clueless about establishes that the cop fired five gunshots into a man who was complying with police commands and never pointed his BB gun at anyone--even Carney accepted this fact. PS--Why can't you bark in public using your real name? I'm generally okay with anonymous comments, but is there a good reason you fear me? Are you a sniveling idiot? Just curious...


fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@roman_archer  

LOL. Maybe our dear Paul was having the same problem I was...some computer glitch kept me from signing in to the site for a couple of weeks...

roman_archer
roman_archer

@fishwithoutbicycle Glad you're back. The comment section just took a giant leap in intelligence and wit. Now where is Paul Lucas? You both disappeared at the same time and I was beginning to think you two ran off together.

roman_archer
roman_archer

@fishwithoutbicycle Yes I noted Mikes comments, hence my torture remark.

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@roman_archer  

That would waste too much oxygen....I guess we'll just have to hope karma takes care of him. Have you seen the comments he keeps making about those prostitutes who were murdered? Scary.

roman_archer
roman_archer

@policestate24 No! Please don't kill Mike Knowles! Let's torture him instead!

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