ANAHEIM (CBSLA.com) — A federal jury Thursday rejected a $6.5 million civil lawsuit filed by the mother of a 25-year-old man fatally shot by an Anaheim police officer in 2012.
Genevieve Huizar, mother of Manuel Diaz, filed the wrongful death and excessive force lawsuit following the July 2012 death of her son.
“Well of course we’re very, very disappointed in the verdict, but we’re not broken. We’re going to take this to the next level and appeal. The judge did not let in a lot of information that could have helped our case,” she said, adding that she was not surprised by the decision.
“You know, we had to be prepared for it, and I was prepared because so many cases here in Orange County, they justify each and every one. And so we’re going to appeal and take it higher, as high as we need to,” she said.
Authorities say Diaz, who was reportedly a documented gang member, ran from police and reached in his waistband when Officer Nick Bennallack fatally shot him in the head and buttocks.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said Bennallack’s actions were justified and taken in “self-defense” because he thought Diaz was armed. No weapon was found on or near the suspect.
The shooting prompted several weeks of anti-police protests.
Huizar, vowing to continue her fight, meanwhile paid tribute to her son by shaving her head after the verdict was announced.
“You know, he was murdered. And he’s in my thoughts and heart and prayers every day. And this is just another way of honoring him,” she said.
Huizar’s attorney, Dale Galipo, asked for $3 million to $5 million for Huizar, in addition to $500,000 for the pain and suffering of her son and $1 million for loss of his life.
Anaheim City Attorney Michael Huston said the case was difficult for all involved.
“We regret the loss of human life. This was a tough case and there’s no winners in this case, and we look forward to strengthening the community with the police working with the community to move forward for the city,” he said.
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