Anaheim SWAT Officer Nick Bennalack’s 4th killing – Daniel Ramirez, 2019.




Bennalack at right with his four victims, clockwise from upper left: Diaz, Villegas, Ramirez, Parker.

Anaheim Police Officer Nick Bennalack, who is now on the SWAT team, cherishes his image as a real tough gunslinger – he and his colleagues like to refer to him as “Nick BUCKSHOT Bennalack.”  However, some us us call him “Backshot,” for his tendency to shoot his victims while their back is turned.  We are just now learning about his fourth victim, Daniel Ramirez, April 4, 2019.

One of the tensest moments of my wife’s life was when her oldest son – in a case of completely mistaken identity – was held at riflepoint by this trigger-happiest of Anaheim policemen, until the cops realized they had the wrong guy.


That was around 2014, when Backshot had already killed two young men.  The first was 30-year-old Filipino-American father Bernie Villegas, who got Anaheim cops nervous when they heard he was walking around his apartment complex with a gun … which turned out to be a b-b gun, a birthday present for his son.  Well, Officer Nick took care of that worry, by shooting good old happy-go-lucky Bernie in the back five times, without a warning.  That was in January 2012.  Bernie’s family failed to prevail in court, and this was BEFORE the District Attorney began issuing reports, so nothing to link to there.

But six months later Nick messed with the wrong family, the wrong mother, when he shot unarmed, 25-year-old Manuel Diaz twice, in the butt and the back of the head.  Nick CLAIMED to have thought the fleeing young man’s cell phone was a gun.  This was Anaheim’s penultimate police killing (of eight mostly Latino young men in twelve months, mostly unarmed) that led to the riots of 2012 and some modest reforms.  (They killed Joel Acevedo the next night.)

Manuel with a poem of his

The DA at the time, Tony Rackauckas, ALWAYS managed to find every police killing justified, but Manuel’s mother Genevieve Huizar took it to court with the aid of ace civil rights attorney Dale Galipo, and in 2017 a civil jury reached a finding of “excessive force” against Bennalack for Manuel’s killing (and awarded her an insultingly modest sum.)  No consequences were forthcoming for “Backshot.”

Some time around 2015 or so there were a lot of protesters out in front of an Anaheim City Council meeting – probably something to do with us trying to get district elections – so they thought they’d better get a bunch of cops out front to keep order, and one of them was Backshot Bennalack.  I’d probably had a couple of drinks, when I turned my back to the cop and taunted him, “Don’t shoot me now, Nick!”  Probably a foolhardy thing to do, but it’s fun to look back on.

Steen Thomas Parker

I didn’t know at the time that he had also recently shot and killed an ACTUAL ARMED MAN in Sept. 2014, alleged armed robber Steen Thomas Parker (right) outside of a Fry’s Electronics.  Assuming the police’s story was true and the DA’s investigation was honest (always two huge if’s) this old guy actually was firing at the cops from his SUV.  Still The Patch got Parker’s age at 43 when it was actually 65, so who knows.




The late Daniel Ramirez, with daughter.

And NOW we hear, a year after the fact, about Bennallack’s FOURTH killing, April 4 of 2019.  I had missed the story back then about a guy “barricaded in an attic” shot fatally while coming down the stairs, but it turns out that was Backshot striking again, and the victim was another 30-year old father, Daniel Robert Ramirez III


And Dale Galipo, who won the excessive force verdict in the Manuel Diaz case, and last year won a whopping $13.2 million verdict against Anaheim for the choking death of Vincent Valenzuela, is representing Ramirez’ family in the wrongful death suit – complaint here.

It was early one morning in West Anaheim (north Harcourt Street) and Irvine cops were up here executing a search warrant for some stolen guitars and amps.  According to the Times story, the Irvine cops arrested two men at the house on outstanding warrants, and on hearing sounds from a garage attic called Anaheim PD for backup.  Two men were in the attic and refused to come down until tear gas was deployed up there.  One came down peacefully and was taken into custody.  Then Daniel also came down peacefully, as ordered… and Bennallack shot him multiple times. .

“Backshot” in court.

Why?  Anaheim police told the Times they thought they heard someone in the attic “make verbal statements they would shoot officers.”  But NOW Anaheim cops have body cameras, and it appears the two men in the attic were only asking NOT to be shot.  And they were unarmed.  When the press writes that “it’s not clear that Ramirez was the suspect” for the alleged guitar theft, that means he wasn’t.  Accused of nothing, unarmed, Daniel Ramirez was shot multiple times by Nick “Backshot” Bennalack while complying with orders and coming down from the attic, and then was denied medical care long enough to bleed to death.

It’s been over a year with no DA report which also feeds suspicions.  We’ll have more details in the coming months, as the attorney Dale Galipo shares them with us.  But it’s long past time that repeat killers like Nick Bennalack should no longer be policemen.  It’s time to clean house, Anaheim!.


UPDATE – Video of the Shooting

Here you’ll see the tense last five minutes of Daniel’s life, as seen from Anaheim SWAT officers’ bodycams.  Daniel’s friend has just come down from the attic unscathed.  The head SWAT officer keeps coaxing Daniel to come down, with his hands showing, and reassuring him that he wouldn’t be shot.  Daniel wants to make sure he can at least have a cigarette before “going to jail.”  (Why was he expecting to have to go to jail?  I still don’t know.)

Daniel slowly comes down, as instructed, and Bennalack immediately opens fire on him, and a few seconds later shouts “GUN! GUN!”  Daniel had no gun. How is the D.A. going to explain this? When is APD Chief Cisneros going to fire him, before Nick gets a fifth victim?

Hat-tip to Greg Silva Sign from 2014

Update – Protest & March, Sat. June 13!

From the relatives and friends of Daniel Ramirez:

This Saturday 06/13/2020 We will unite and march in a peaceful protest to the Anaheim Police Station until we get justice for Daniel and the other three families that lost their loved one.

Our March will begin at 4pm.
Starting address is Brookhurst Park
2271 W Crescent Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801.

We will march to the APD.

Don’t forget to wear your Dodger “D” hats and face mask!

Everyone is welcome to protest with us, all that we ask of everyone is to please keep it peaceful. The citizens of Anaheim have known the Anahiem police to be violent and corrupt. Even knowing that please let us march in peace and shed light to the abuse of authority in our community.

If the families of the three others that were taken by this officer see this, please come march with us.


Report Sunday on Yesterday’s March

Lotsa pictures here:   I’ll copy over some of the best ones…

There were about 40 friends and family, and I brought along another half dozen.  I asked “Do you guys know how far the police station is from this park?” and they did. “Yeah, FOUR MILES,” which was important to them since 4 was Daniel’s favorite number and he was the fourth victim of Bennallack.  So off we went.

They had a lot of good signs and t-shirts made, including “Enough is Enough” teeshirts, which went along with their original chant:



Here’s the two signs I made:


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.