Claiming a dirty Anaheim cop operating in a terribly corrupt police department murdered a 21-year-old man in March 2012, surviving family members filed a federal civil rights lawsuit this week inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.
Humberto Guizar, the attorney for victim Martin Angel Hernandez's mother and minor child, wrote in the lawsuit that the police killing wasn't just "brutal" but is also representative of a "disturbing trend" of out-of-control members of the Anaheim Police Department's gang unit.
Guizar's description of the incident paints a picture of police officers who believe they can kill with immunity.
He said officer Dan Hurtado responded to a call about a man holding a weapon in an alley not far from the Anaheim GardenWalk, responded to the area, saw Hernandez holding a shotgun, yelled "police," observed the retreating suspect attempting to toss his gun in a dumpster and, without warning, used his Bushmaster AR15 semiautomatic military assault rifle to fire a shot into the man's head.
According to Guizar, Hurtado used excessive force because Hernandez hadn't threatened anyone–including the cop–with the gun before the killing.
Underscoring the alleged police savagery, the cop walked up to the profusely bleeding man and, instead of calling for emergency medical assistance, grabbed his shirt, picked him up and threw him back on the pavement, according to the lawsuit.
Guizar claims in his complaint that Hurtado, knowing his lethal force wasn't righteous, then doctored the scene.
"In order to avoid responsibility for this wrongful shooting, Hurtado proceeded to place the shotgun next to the decedent's body in order to make it appear as though the decedent had his weapon in his hands when he was shot," the lawsuit alleges.
Guizar also said Anaheim PD is a cesspool of warped police officers that cover up fellow officer crimes in a "code of silence" and, with the knowledge of police department management, routinely fabricate official reports to publicly justify their corruption.
As of this afternoon, a federal judge had not yet been assigned to the case.
The plaintiff's did not specify a dollar amount of damages they seek.
Earlier this month, a federal jury rejected a similar wrongful death lawsuit claim by the family of Manuel Diaz, who was shot in the buttock and back of the head by an Anaheim cop in July 2012.
In that case, officer Nick Bennellack's taxpayer-paid lawyer argued to the jury that even though Diaz had been unarmed at the time of his death, the cop's erroneous conclusion otherwise couldn't be faulted as professionally negligent or corruption.
Veteran Anaheim cops say they must use tough tactics to protect innocent citizens in the city from lawless, gang thugs.
More than a year ago, prosecutors inside the Orange County District Attorney's office sanctioned Hurtado's actions as lawful.