FBI to Probe Freeway Incident Involving Anaheim Officer’s Wife
The FBI will investigate an alleged freeway shooting involving the wife of an Anaheim police officer who had made misconduct allegations against members of the department, federal officials confirmed Friday.
Officer Steve Nolan, who is on leave and has sued the department, alleges his wife, Annie, was shot at in Riverside County by “unknown officers of the Anaheim Police Department” in retaliation for his reporting alleged incidents of police brutality.
Anaheim Police Chief Randall Gaston said Friday that he had not been contacted by federal authorities and said the pending litigation prevents him from commenting.
Annie Nolan, 31, said Friday that a car had been following her on the freeway Aug. 30, 1995 when she suddenly heard an explosion and saw that her window had been blown out.
“I kept thinking it was a freak accident or that maybe something from the freeway flew up and hit me,” she said. “But the car following me makes me unable to believe that.”
The Corona Police Department took a report after the incident but no arrests were made. Police in that city said they were unable to confirm whether a bullet had shattered Annie Nolan’s car window because none were found in the car.
The day before the incident, Annie Nolan had called a Los Angeles radio program to discuss on the air her husband’s pending lawsuit against Anaheim.
The suit claims that he was dismissed in 1993 in retaliation for reporting to his superiors two incidents of alleged brutality. Nolan contends he witnessed officers beat up suspected gang members in 1991 and 1992.
Though the firing was overturned in August 1994 by an outside arbitrator, Steve Nolan never returned to work. He said he received threats on his life and remains on disability leave for stress.
The officer’s attorney, John Lewis, said Nolan believes officers were involved because of the threats and Annie Nolan’s appearance on the radio show.
“I am pleased that they are finally doing something about it or at least looking into it,” Lewis said. “I’m just disappointed that it has taken them so long.”
Steve Nolan had written to the Justice Department two weeks after the freeway incident, asking for its help.
“You can be assured that if the evidence shows that there was a prosecutable violation of federal criminal civil rights statutes, appropriate action will be taken,” Deval L. Patrick, assistant attorney general with the department’s civil rights division, wrote in a March 7 response.
Nolan’s lawsuit against the city is still pending, with the officer completing his deposition this week.