By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – With the support of the Los Angeles Civil Rights Association, the family of the U.S. Marine shot and killed by police held a protest outside the parking garage where the incident happened over the weekend.
“Knowing this is where my son took his last breath, it’s tough. But this is where it happened, and we came down here to let our voices be heard by the Palm Springs community and the community outside,” said Allan DeVillena Sr.
Marine Corporal AJ DeVillena II finished his tour of duty in Afghanistan last November.
The Palm Springs-based Marine was spending his final week in the area when reports say he and a fellow marine had a confrontation with two Palm Springs Police officers at a downtown parking garage.
Reports say police shot the 22-year old DeVillena after he refused to obey their orders to stop his car. He reportedly struck one of the officers with his vehicle.
Police say they recovered a stolen ATM and identification cards and a stolen cell phone inside the vehicle.
Two months after the incident, orange marks on the parking lot floor outline the path of DeVillena’s death. The lines show his car’s path, while dots mark the place where officers fired from.
The family plans to push through with a wrongful death lawsuit against the Palmdale Police Department and is calling on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Marines to step in with their own probe.
The family hasn’t put a dollar amount on the lawsuit, but they say they’re more concerned about changing police procedures.
“We want to sue the mayor, we want to sue the city, and we want to sue the police department, because we want them to remember to never forget that you have to change your policies and procedures we want to implement. Traffic stops should never turn into a murder by a cop,” said Eddie Jones, president of the LA Civil Rights Association.
“Beyond AJ we want to help other families who have suffered police brutality,” DeVillena’s father added.
The Palm Springs Police Department told Balitang America that they are continuing to investigate the shooting. They also confirmed that the two officers involved in the shooting have since returned to duty.
But they declined to comment on the protest or the planned lawsuit.