Son of police officer could not break away from gangs, drugs

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PHOENIX - The picture the public has seen of Michael Palomino Jr. is a mugshot of a heavily tattooed man in his mid-20s. His mother says that picture only tells part of her son's story.

Palomino spent the last decade of his life in and out of prison and last week was shot dead by a Glendale police officer after allegedly pointing a gun at another officer. His father is a sergent with the department.

"It's ironic, I guess, in the way that it happened," said Diane Darling, Palomino's mother. "You know, I guess it makes for a great story that a police officer's son was killed at the hands of a police officer."

But the story Darling wants to tell is the one of her son slipping onto the wrong track and being unable to turn back.

"I think it's very easy to look at him, at that picture that was in the news, and say this kid didn't care what was right or wrong, but he was raised to know what was right or wrong," Darling said.

She said Palomino had a happy childhood, playing sports and getting good grades, but around age 16 he fell in with the wrong crowd. Months later he was ordered to juvenile detention.

He would spend the next decade of his life in and out of prison and in 2006 was sentenced to several years behind bars for armed robbery.

"It's one of those things where we would feel like, 'OK maybe he's getting on the right track again,' and he would just fall back," Darling said.

Despite his checkered past with the law, Darling said her son was a good person.

"He would give you the shirt off his back, he was kind, he had a great heart and so much love," she said.

Darling said her ex-husband, Sgt. Mike Palomino Sr., is "grieving horribly." Glendale police officials said they were offering him counseling and support.