Anaheim police and protesters clash on Sunday, July 29, 2012 as tensions surrounding police shootings in the city intensify.
One of the Anaheim police officers involved in a fatal shooting in July that sparked days of protests was an amateur boxer in a fight club for law enforcement, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court.
Nick "Buckshot" Bennallack was named as one of the officers involved in the shooting of Manuel Diaz, 25, who died July 21 in the 600 block of North Anna Drive.
Bennallack was featured in a Sept. 8 blog post on United Combat Association, an amateur fight club for law enforcement, firefighters and members of the military, as a heavyweight who made his "Battle of the Badges" debut against a member of the U.S. Fire Service, a match that was called off due to an injury to Bennallack's nose.
"It got so bad that Bennallack walked into three straight lefts," the post reads. "After having breathing problems, he eventually spit out his mouthpiece."
Diaz's family named Bennallack in a wrongful death lawsuit that seeks $50 million. The lawsuit claims officers wrongfully shot Diaz in the back of the head. The lawsuit also accuses Anaheim Police Chief John Welter of negligently hiring and retaining the officers involved.
"On what planet is it OK for the subject of a homicide investigation -- an admitted shooter -- to be out on the streets with a gun?" said the Diaz family attorney, Dana Douglas. "He should be arrested."
A second officer in the complaint is unnamed. Police said it was being withheld for safety concerns.
Bennallack and the second officer were cleared to return to duty by a psychologist and were back on patrol Sept. 5, Anaheim police said.
Anaheim police Sgt. Bob Dunn confirmed Bennallack was involved in the shooting of Diaz. Dunn said Bennallack was on patrol with his partner, Brett Heitmann, and an unidentified citizen on a ride-along at the time of the incident.
Heitmann did not fire his weapon, Dunn said.
He said the city follows a process that includes an evaluation by a psychologist before officers are allowed to return to work.
Police said Diaz and his two companions ran when they were approached by officers and reached into his waistband. Police did not recover a weapon.
Police described Diaz as a documented gang member from Santa Ana, a description his family denies.
The shooting of Diaz, and a second shooting the next day by Anaheim police that left Joel Acevedo dead, sparked a series of protests across the country, clashes with Anaheim police and calls for city reform.
In the last decade, no officer has been criminally charged in an officer-involved shooting, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said.