An Anaheim policeman who’s been involved in at least two prior shootings of suspects was cleared — along with several colleagues — in a third officer-involved fatality, Orange County prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Officer Nick Bennallack has shot three suspects between January 2012 and last September, and in each case, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has ruled the unrelated shootings were justified.
Bennallack also prevailed in a civil suit filed by the mother of a man he fatally shot in July 2012, which was among back-to-back officer-involved shootings that touched off civil unrest in Anaheim that summer.
In a letter dated Monday, the District Attorney’s Office informed Anaheim police Chief Raul Quezada that Bennallack, as well as fellow officers Mark Brydges, Jeff Burke, Douglas Elms, Catalin Panov and Stephen Salicos, were justified in the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Steen Thomas Parker on Sept. 19, 2014.
Parker pointed a gun at a Fry’s electronics store security guard who confronted him about apparent shoplifting, according to the district attorney’s report. Parker left the store when the guard backed off and ended up at Manheim Auto Auction, where he got into a BMW SUV and for an hour refused all commands to get out, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Parker eventually did so, but then got back into the vehicle and continued to defy the officers, who shot gas and pepper balls at the suspect in a futile attempt to get him to surrender, according to prosecutors.
Parker opened fire on the officers when he was shot with a bean bag. The officers then opened fire on Parker, who died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to prosecutors.
An autopsy revealed he had amphetamine, methamphetamine and morphine in his system. The suspect also had a criminal history dating back to 1990 that included rape and being under the influence of drugs.
“Officers Bennallack, Brydges, Burke, Elms Panov, and Salicos were justified in believing that Parker posed a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to their partners and themselves,” the report says.
Bennallack fatally shot 25-year-old Manuel Diaz on July 21, 2012. Prosecutors concluded it was a justified shooting and, in March of last year, the officer prevailed in a civil suit filed by Diaz’s mother.
Orange County prosecutors in December 2012 cleared Bennallack of criminal wrongdoing in the Jan. 7, 2012, shooting of Bernie Villegas.
— City News Service