California cops with the City of Palm Springs Police Department agreed to a $2,500,000 settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit of a Marine killed by an officer that recklessly jumped through the window of his moving vehicle.
It happened on Veteran’s Day 2012.
Corporal Allan ‘AJ’ DeVillena II, was 22-year-old High Desert Marine and veteran of the Afghanistan War’s Operation Enduring Freedom on active duty.
DeVillena received a medal for his good conduct too.
The young Marine was out celebrating Veteran’s Day when his life was cruelly ended by militarized police here at home.
The GI Bill was going to send him to college two short months later.
City of Palm Springs Blames the Victim
The attorney for Palm Springs is describing today’s $2.5 million settlement as “purely a business decision”.
“Mr. DeVillena created a rapidly evolving and dangerous situation that placed both officers’ lives in danger. Given the actions of Mr. DeVillena, it was reasonable for both officers to respond with deadly force to defend themselves,” Patrick Desmond, an attorney for Palm Springs, said in a prepared statement.
This is the third time that Officer Nordman has seriously cost the taxpayers of Palm Springs.
Saturday Night, November 10, 2012
On that fateful Veteran’s Day, two Palm Springs Police bicycle officers, Mike Heron and Chad Nordman encountered DeVillena and a fellow Marine – Private First Class Clinton Harris – shortly after 1 a.m. outside of a bar.
Both of the young men were reportedly intoxicated. It was Veteran’s Day weekend after all.
Allegedly, Harris became belligerent when approached by the police and cursed at the officers, while DeVillena reportedly remained calm and polite and did not give the officers any trouble.
Eventually, the officers let the pair go.
Unfortunately, the two friends ended up running into the same police officers again later that evening.
The second encounter ended with the California officers firing six bullets into Corporal DeVillena inside a parking structure.
The Marine’s dead body would remain handcuffed for several hours.
When the men were approached by the officers for a second time they attempted to flee and ignored commands to stop.
Officer Heron stated “It just looked like a demon took over his face,” and claims that he was struck in the leg by the vehicle.
The cop’s quote eerily echoed Darren Wilson’s description of Michael Brown almost 2 years later.
Officer Nordman escalated the situation by jumping through the passenger side window into the moving vehicle. He landed in Harris’ lap and was poking DeVillena in the face with his weapon.
Upon seeing his partner’s feet dangling from the window, and assuming that Nordman had been pulled into the vehicle, Heron opened fire- shooting at least four rounds.
The gunfire prompted Nordman to also fire his weapon, at least twice. He shot and killed DeVillena at point blank range.
Heron later claimed to investigators that “he had no choice” but to fire his weapon after his partner’s reckless action of jumping into the vehicle.
Nordman told investigators that he jumped into the vehicle because he wasn’t being “taken seriously enough.”
Basically, this entire ordeal took place because of this officer’s ego.
“Why did you jump in that window?” a police investigator asked Nordman.
“Make the driver stop,” Nordman said. “He didn’t seem like he was gonna … taking me seriously enough, me being outside of the car and telling him to stop, so I figured I’d get inside and make him stop.”
A woman who witnessed the shooting called the officer’s actions criminal in her testimony, and described the shooting as malicious.
“I just believe it was malicious,” Lesley Lynn Diggins, 42, told the Desert Sun. “There was no need for self-defense. There was nothing they needed to defend themselves from.”
Both officers were cleared in the killing by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
Palm Springs Paid Two Other Large Settlements Due to Officer Nordman
In 2009, Nordman went undercover to bait gay men into exposing themselves in public during the Warm Sands Sting.
Many believe that the sting was an overt attempt to drive gay men out of the community.
Palm Springs taxpayers also had to shell out $125,000 to Benjamin Meza. Nordman shot the innocent bystander when two other officers opened fire on yet another fleeing suspect in January of 2013.
Officer Nordman embodies why we need police to carry professional liability insurance, in the same manner as doctors and any other profession that leaves people’s lives at stake.
If a doctor ends up costing an insurance company too much money in malpractice claims he or she will become uninsurable- and thus unemployable.
If police were responsible for their actions, instead of leaving taxpayers to foot the bill, Nordman would likely have been gone from the force.
Corporal DiVillena would be entering his Junior year of college today.
If police can’t take people’s lives seriously, perhaps they could take their wallets seriously.