In a rapidly conducted hearing this afternoon, a federal judge in Orange County officially ruled that lawyers for the estate of Manual Diaz, an Anaheim man killed by police in 2011, are not yet entitled to inspect investigatory records while prosecutors consider whether to file charges against the officer.
According to the Weekly's Brandon Ferguson, who attended the hearing, U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna determined that lawyers for the city of Anaheim were right in their assertions that premature release of the files might jeopardize the constitutional rights of the Nick Bennallack, the cop who fired the fatal shot to the back of the victim's head.
Lawyers for the Diaz estate had argued that release of documents was no threat to Bennellack because, in their view, he faces no legitimate threat of prosecution from Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who they believe routinely whitewashes findings in officer involved shootings.
Selna, however, didn't share that view. Apparently referencing Rackauckas' filings against three Fullerton police officers in the unnecessary killing on Kelly Thomas, the judge observed that the possibility of prosecution of Bennellack "isn't remote."
Dana Douglas, a lawyer for the Diaz estate, then observed to Selna: "From your lips to God's ears. I hope that he is prosecuted."
The killing of Diaz sparked massive protests against police brutality in Anaheim.