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Anaheim cop cleared in fatal shooting that sparked violence

March 20, 2013 |  5:59 pm

Anna drive
After a months-long investigation, prosecutors Wednesday announced they have cleared the Anaheim police officer who shot and killed a young man last summer, prompting a wave of protests and unrest over the summer in Orange County's largest city.

At a news conference Wednesday, prosecutors said Officer Nicholas Bennallack of the Anaheim Police Department had reason to believe that his life was in danger after cornering 25-year-old Manuel Diaz in an apartment complex courtyard

Prosecutors said the officer had only a split-second to act.

The report released by the district attorney's office said Bennallack was "on the horns of a do-or-die dilemma."

At the news conference, authorities said that Diaz -- who was shot twice, first in the rear and again in the head -- was a gang member with a previous conviction on gun charges.

A cellphone recovered at the scene had photos of him flashing gang signs and brandishing a handgun, authorities said.

His family, through an attorney, has denied the allegation that he was part of a gang. They were said to be "in tears and distraught" upon reading the report's findings, attorney Dana Douglas said.

The shooting was one of several officer-involved incidents in the increasingly Latino city and triggered street violence and demands for political reform.


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-- Rick Rojas

Photo: Genevive Huizar mourns the loss of her son with family and friends of Manuel Diaz, including Jose Herrera, center right, on Anna Drive near the scene where he was killed by police last summer. Credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Los Angeles Times.