The beauty of Palm Springs was the non-sequitur backdrop for the murder of U.S. Marine Corporal Allan ‘AJ’ DeVillena II. He was a 22-year-old High Desert Marine and veteran of the Afghanistan War’s Operation Enduring Freedom on active duty. He had also received a good conduct medal, and would be a junior in college today if he had not been killed by Palm Beach police officers on November 10th, 2012– which was Veteran’s Day.
In 2012, officers fired six shots into Cpl. DeVillena, who was unarmed, after one of the officers decided to jump into his moving vehicle through an open window and escalated a situation that, by witness accounts, should never have happened.
This was the second time that day that the officers had had contact with Cpl. DeVillena and his friend, Private First Class Clinton Harris. The bicycle officers, Mike Heron and Chad Nordman, let them go, only to “find” them later on and apparently mishandle the situation to the tune of an uncontested 2.5 million dollars. The city is blaming the Marines, but settled the case for a very large sum, belying that.
Officer Nordman’s actions forced Officer Harris to open fire, according to their statements.
According to Photography Is Not A Crime:
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.
Corporal DeVillena, not “Mr.,”was then handcuffed. They handcuffed his dead body and left him that way for several hours.
This is a man that had survived fighting for our freedom, turned 21 in a war zone, and was going to start college with his GI bill, but was killed by a bad cop.
“Mr. DeVillena (sic) 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.
If reasonable use of deadly force was in any way worth a pay out of 2.5 million dollars, tax payers would be broke trying to keep up with the ever-increasing drain on them by police pay-offs.
In his statement, Officer Nordman -the officer who killed DeVillena at point blank range- makes it clear that the men in the vehicle were not acting like a threat, they just were not taking the officers “seriously enough.” Yet, Officer Heron stated, “It just looked like a demon took over his face” (had he seen a demon before?), and claims that he was struck in the leg by the vehicle.
Eyewitnesses, and their own statements, say otherwise – but these officers are still working in Palm Springs.
Two years later, these same words would be used to describe Mike Brown.
Featured image via Victim’s Facebook Page