Police Abuse

Lawsuit Over Fatal Police Shooting of Marine in California Delayed Again, DA Still Deciding Whether to Charge Another Marine


Allan DeVillena

More than two years after their son Allan, an active duty Marine, was shot to death by police in Palm Springs, California, the DeVillena family is still waiting for their wrongful death lawsuit to be taken to trial. It was postponed again, from April to September, because while prosecutors decided in October not to file charges against the two officers who shot and killed DeVillena, they say they're still not sure whether they're going to charge Clinton Harris, another Marine who witnessed the fatal shooting, more than two years after the incident for which he'd be presumably charged.

The Desert Sun reports:

[The] shooting occurred in the early morning hours of Nov. 11, 2012, the birthday of the Marine Corps. DeVillena and Harris, both stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, had driven to Palm Springs the previous evening to enjoy the downtown nightlife.

About 2 a.m., a drunken DeVillena was shot during a confrontation with two officers on bicycle patrol, Chad Nordman and Mike Heron. The officers shot DeVillena six times as he attempted to drive out of the downtown parking garage in a Chrysler sedan. Harris, who was in the passenger seat, was unhurt.

According to Palm Springs police, the officers were trying to stop DeVillena from driving drunk, but he ignored their commands and tried to drive away. As the sedan attempted to leave the bottom floor of the garage, Nordman jumped through the passenger side window of the vehicle, sprawling across Harris' lap, in an effort to stop the car. Police say that DeVillena then accelerated the car at the other officer, striking Heron in the leg, prompting both police officers to fire their weapons.

The sedan crashed into a wall in the garage. DeVillena died in the driver's seat. At some point, the officers cuffed his hands behind his back.

The Desert Sun talked to eyewitnesses who presented a different account of events, one where DeVillena did not strike or try to run over either officer, and was actually driving away when fatally shot.

The cops who shot and killed DeVillena have not yet been officially identified. While the California Supreme Court ruled earlier that police agencies couldn't withhold the names of cops who fire their weapons on duty without a reason the Palm Springs police department refuses to release the names of the officers to The Desert Sun. In fact, the local police union sued Palm Springs and The Desert Sun to prevent them from identifying the officers.