Family of Pinoy killed by US cops seek truth

by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Jan 12 2012 11:17 AM | Updated as of Jan 12 2012 07:17 PM

ANAHEIM, California - The past few days have been difficult for the Villegas family. While mourning the loss of their father Bernie Villegas, the family is now wondering what really happened.

A local SWAT team reportedly shot and killed Villegas Saturday night, after receiving 911 calls about an armed man in an apartment complex. Police later recovered a BB gun beside Villegas’ body.
Relatives said Villegas had been doing the laundry at the apartment complex's laundry room late Saturday night. 
His son 14-year old Ricezen was inside the apartment unit when he heard a neighbor screaming that his dad was dead.
“Yung kaibigan ko sabi, papa ko yung namatay. Sa ulo binaril,” recalled Ricezen.
The family said they did not know Bernie owned a BB gun. A neighbor, who declined to speak on camera, said it was intended as a present for Ricezen.
Because of the ongoing investigation being conducted by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, police cannot describe the events or details that led to them shooting Villegas.
“Several officers responded to that call. After they arrived, they encountered a male, in his 30′s to the rear of the complex near the car ports. Initially, we recovered what we believed to be a rifle, at the scene, however later we determined it was a BB rifle,” said Sgt. Bob Dunn of the Anaheim police department.
Neighbors, who were inside their apartments at the time of the incident, heard no warnings or confrontations between Villegas and the police. After hearing gunshots, they said they looked outside only to see Villegas’ body being removed from the scene.
A memorial now stands at the exact spot where Villegas was gunned down. His family described him as a happy-go-lucky guy who moved to the US in 2002 to live with his father and siblings.
At the time of his death, the former restaurant worker was waiting for his wife and youngest child in the Philippines to join the rest of their family in the US. 
With their father now gone and mother still in the Philippines, Ricezen and his 12-year old sister Kristine will now be taken care of by their extended family.
As they await the results of the investigation, the Villegas family have not yet decided if they will file a lawsuit, and have not yet made funeral arrangements.

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