A motion for summary judgment was filed by Palm Springs Police Department on Monday in the civil lawsuit brought by the family of Cpl. Allan DeVillena. The Police Department is asking for the case to be dismissed on the grounds that officers reacted reasonably to the situation.
KRON4 reports that on November 10, 2012, DeVillena was killed after being shot six times during a confrontation with Officers Mike Heron and Chad Nordman in the public parking garage in Palm Springs. While under the influence of alcohol, DeVillena ignored the commands of the officers to stop his vehicle. At that point, Nordman jumped through the passenger-side window of the vehicle in an attempt to stop DeVillena before he exited the garage. Upon seeing Nordman’s legs hanging out of the window, Heron assumed that his partner had been pulled into the vehicle, and began shooting in order to save him. Nordman then shot DeVillena in the torso to prevent his legs from being crushed between the door and the concrete pillars at the exit of the garage.
Officers Heron and Nordman were cleared by the district attorney’s office of any wrong-doing after an investigation of the incident. Now, DeVillena’s family has filed a lawsuit against the Palm Springs Police Department, yet the Police Department continues to argue that Heron and Nordman took appropriate action given the threat DeVillena posed to the public, and more specifically, to Officer Nordman.
According to The Desert Sun, some experts have argued that while Officers Nordman and Heron reacted reasonably to the situation, it was their own actions that put them in jeopardy in the first place. Geoffrey Alpert, a deadly force expert at the University of South Carolina, is quoted as saying that “at the time the officer pulled the trigger, he may have had a reasonable fear for his life, but with that said, it was his actions that created the jeopardy.”
Nordman was interviewed by investigators twice, and transcripts show that both times he stated he leaped through the vehicle’s window in order to stop DeVillena because he was not responding to their verbal commands. In the most recent court documents released earlier this month, however, Officer Nordman has clarified that he jumped into the vehicle in order to avoid being hit by the car as it drove toward him.