Gabriel San Roman
Blood Orange: The Data Behind the Headlines of OC's Most Controversial Police Shootings
Updated: Aug 19, 2020
When the two Anaheim police officers approached Manuel Diaz on a summer afternoon five years ago, he was leaning into a car, chatting with a couple of friends who were parked in an alleyway. Diaz fled on foot and turned the corner of an apartment complex on Anna Drive. He was quickly approaching the black, iron fence at the end of the yard—the only thing separating him from the street and police. But before he reached the fence, he turned slightly, possibly to look over his shoulder. That's when Officer Nick Bennallack fired two shots at Diaz, a move he later said was necessary because he believed Diaz was armed and reaching for his waistband. As a dying Diaz twitched on the ground, police searched him for a weapon. They found only a cellphone and a pipe.
But behind the headlines of OC's most controversial police shootings, there are many other encounters that fill slim news-column spaces with sparse details provided by authorities. Brought together, from the outrageous to the ignored, there's the story of police shootings themselves, one that hasn't been told in OC. How often do officer-involved shootings happen? Who's most likely to die by the gun in police encounters? Which department is OC's deadliest? How many unarmed people get shot? Are police ever prosecuted for on-duty shootings by the Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA)?
Read more on my latest OC Weekly Cover Story Special Report out on newspapers today: