Anaheim Police Chief Fears Riots in City After Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

Matt Oliver
Riot cops on the streets of Anaheim two years ago

The Anaheim Police Department is still plagued by "riot fear" more than two years after unrest erupted in the city's downtown. The reason? It's not over the Orange County District Attorney's office clearing APD's Nick Bennallack in the fatal shooting of unarmed 25-year-old Manuel Diaz.

According to a letter obtained by the Weekly, the cause for concern this time around is possible protests after a Ferguson grand jury decides whether or not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for gunning down unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

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Anaheim Police Arrest Activist Weeks After Cops Crashed Her Birthday Bash

Gabriel San Roman / OC Weekly
Yesenia Rojas at Anaheim city council chambers

Yesenia Rojas gave Anaheim Deputy Police Chief Julian Harvey what she thought was a courtesy call yesterday morning. She's a noted community activist in the city's Anna Drive neighborhood, which gained international attention two years ago for a police killing there that led to days of riots in Anaheim.

"I invite him to events we are going to have in our community," Rojas says. He was busy but returned her call later with some urgent news. "That's when I found out I had an arrest warrant for me."

Rojas walked into the Anaheim Police Department headquarters that afternoon to turn herself in at Harvey's suggestion. After meeting with him, she was booked and held on $10,000 bail for charges of interfering with police before being released late into the night.

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Steve Chavez Lodge Pokes His Dirty Hands Back into Anaheim Politics Again...and Loses Again

Photo by Gabriel San Blogman
Lodge, at left, with his best buddy, Democrat Jordan Brandman

Remember failed Anaheim city council candidate Steve Chavez Lodge? Of course you do. He was on our 2012 OC Scariest People list for conveniently re-remembering his birth surname was Chavez just in time for the Anaheim elections even though he had used only the Lodge name through his professional career, and for being a cop so dirty that he had multiple police-brutality lawsuits filed against him and once had a man jailed for over a year on murder charges that were later dropped. Lodge badly lost the election, Chavez fake name and all, so no idea why anyone would want to associate himself with that loser--yet he still remains in the good graces of the lords of Anaheim.

They're already prepping him for a 2016 council run, and had Lodge pretend to be an concerned citizen last week when he went to court to challenge the ballot designations of Anaheimers running for public office this year. And, Lodge being Lodge, he lodged another loss.

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Federal Appeals Court Overturns Dismissal of Fatal Anaheim Police Shooting Lawsuit

Caesar and Theresa.jpg
Theresa Smith hugged by her late son
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that a wrongful death lawsuit of a man gunned down by Anaheim police should be decided by a jury. On December 11, 2009, five officers opened fire, killing 35-year-old Caesar Cruz in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski cited "curious and material factual discrepancies" in finding a lower court's dismissal of the civil suit in error.

"Honestly, I'm excited," says Theresa Smith, Cruz's mother. "For me, winning the reversal shows that the whole system, from the police, to the Orange County District Attorney, to the lower court, did something wrong."

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Protester Sues Anaheim Officers Involved in Previous Lawsuits

Brown holding the greatest protest sign in Anaheim history!
Richard Brown beat criminal charges last October related to his arrest while protesting the Anaheim Police Department on July 29, 2012. Brown and his girlfriend Kristine Hedley are now suing officers for civil rights violations alleging excessive force and false arrest. In a complaint filed two years to the date after the protest, at least two of the Anaheim cops named as defendants are no strangers to allegations of misconduct.

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Lawsuit: Anaheim Police "Executed" Cuffed Man in Cover Up

Joel Acevedo (right)

A lawsuit filed this week claims Anaheim police officers covered up what really happened on the night of July 22, 2012, when they shot and killed Joel Acevedo. The Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) office completed its investigation into the shooting clearing officer Kelly Phillips on the grounds that Acevedo was armed and shot first after fleeing a reportedly stolen Lexus SUV. The lawsuit alleges a completely different story involving nothing less than an outright execution.

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Families of Men Killed by Anaheim Police to Hold March and Rally THIS SATURDAY

Gabriel San Roman / OC Weekly
Scene from last year's anniversary march
The second anniversaries of the killings of Manuel Angel Diaz and Joel Acevedo by Anaheim police is next week. The deaths, of course, led to riots that captured international media attention. Families of Acevedo, Diaz, and others killed by Anaheim PD will hold a rally and protest this Saturday to remember their loved ones.

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Gustavo's Latest KCRW "Orange County Line": On Anaheim and Santa Ana's New Latino Police Chiefs!

Wikimedia Commons
"We ain't in Dixie anymore, Gomer..."

When are affirmative action hires not affirmative action hires? When they're not. Okay, let's try that again...

Earlier this month, Anaheim and SanTana made history after appointing the first-ever Latino police chiefs for their respective departments. And while an outsider might view the moves as easy affirmative action hires to reflect the demographics of the cities, people who actually pay attention know that SanTana head Carlos Rojas and Anaheim top cop Raul Quezada are hardly tokes--indeed, they're the ultimate department insiders. That was the thrust of my "Orange County Line" commentary this past Monday on KCRW-FM 89.9.

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Anaheim City Council to Consider Monument Honoring Bruno the Police Dog

Not to be confused with BrĂ¼no the Austrian fashionista
A month later, fundraisers and news reports are still pouring in for Bruno, the Anaheim police K-9 severely wounded by gunfire after a deadly shootout between officers and Robert Moreno, Jr. A group calling itself "Dog Park for Chino Hills" held a "Breakfast for Bruno" event at Applebee's on Saturday that tallied up $3,000 in donations.

Not to be outdone, the Anaheim City Council, at the suggestion of Kris Murray, is getting in on the "Brunomania" bit. At this evening's meeting, council members will direct city staff to organize a committee to build a monument to Bruno at one of Anaheim's future dog park sites.

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

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.

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