The Anaheim Police Department and an officer who killed an unarmed, 25-year-old gangster in July 2012, do not want the public to see the contents of Orange County District Attorney's office investigation files about the incident.
U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna approved the defendants' request that the lawyers for the estate of Manuel Diaz's only be allowed to review the files if they agree not publicly share the contents or allow the information to be used in future police excessive force lawsuits.
The records that will be kept under seal include Orange County Crime Lab analysis, the autopsy report, the decedent's criminal history index as well as Anaheim police reports accumulated in hopes of justifying the killing.
In March, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas declared the shooting by veteran officer Nick Bennallack was “reasonable and justified,” a stance hailed by the Anaheim Police Association as obvious.
But Genevieve Huizar, the mother of the victim, believes her son was gunned down in a display of excessive force, according to a federal lawsuit filed in Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.
Huizar is seeking $50 million in damages.
The Diaz killing began a series of intense community protests against alleged police abuse in Anaheim.
Police officials insist their cops use lethal force only when they believe their own lives are in jeopardy or to protect innocent citizens.
A mediation to resolve the lawsuit before trial and using U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert N. Block initially had a late August deadline, but has been extended to an Oct. 4 settlement conference, according to court records.