Phoenix protesters demand answers after police fatally shot man parked at driveway

Protesters in Phoenix are demanding answers after officers fatally shot a man parked in a car in a driveway on Saturday afternoon.

Video of the incident shows four officers surrounding a car in the city’s Maryvale neighborhood as viewers watch and ask them to lower their weapons and not shoot.

The footage shows not so much what happens in the minutes before the recording began as it does in the seconds immediately before the officers opened fire. It is unclear what is happening inside the car when the driver’s side window is rolled up. A loud thud can be heard, and then gunshots sound. The video shows the broken driver-side window before the police break the rest, briefly allowing the man’s head to hang down.

On Sunday, Phoenix Councilman Carlos Garcia identified the man who was shot dead as James “Jay” Garcia. Police have not yet publicly identified him or the officers involved.

The councilman spoke to MSNBC on Tuesday, where he criticized the police department’s response and the lack of transparency afterward.

“On behalf of ourselves and the family, we continue to request more information for all body camera images to be released. We are demanding an independent investigation,” he said. “I think what we often see is that the police control the whole environment and what goes on around the case. We need to see all the evidence and not parts of it, as we have seen in the past few days.” “

The Phoenix Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.

A vigil for Garcia was held at the house where he was shot on Monday night, and earlier a group of protesters had gathered at the Phoenix police Maryvale compound to demand that the department publish full videos of the incident.

The department released Monday camera footage of the body of an officer who was on the scene but was not involved in the shooting and said, “The release of body camera footage of officers directly involved before all are completed. interviews with witnesses and officials could compromise the investigation. ” in the shooting.

Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said that “social media posts include misinformation about the events that led to the shooting.”

A police statement said officers responded to the neighborhood because a man called 911 saying “he had been stabbed in June and reported that the responsible person was back in the area threatening him.”

In a 911 police call, the man says, “Last week, someone hit me with a knife and I went to the hospital for a couple of days, and the police searched for the guy, and the guy is here, tried to do, he tried to do the same thing again. “

The man who made the call told officers who responded to the scene that “the man who stabbed him had a knife and someone else had a weapon,” according to police. “He directed officers to a house in Glenrosa where they contacted several people, including a man inside the vehicle in the driveway.”

Officers said they spoke to that man for about 10 minutes, but when asked to leave his car in order to secure the scene, “he refused and finally raised the windows and pulled out a gun,” according to the police statement. .

“The officers ordered the man to drop the gun, but he refused. The man repeatedly told officers to shoot him and raised the gun at the officers. It was then that two officers fired their weapons,” the statement said. police.

Video of the body camera used by the officer who was not directly involved shows officers pulling a pistol from the front of the car the man was in. It is unclear if the man they shot was the man the police were looking for because of the initial 911 call.

Police told NBC News in a statement Tuesday that they were still working to confirm whether Garcia was the suspect in the 911 call and said it was difficult to relocate the victim who called.

The shooting is under investigation, which will be turned over to the County Attorney’s office once it is complete, police said.

Daniel Ortega, the attorney representing Garcia’s family, told The Arizona Republic that Garcia’s mother is devastated by the death of her son.

“I think the political climate in which we are in relation to the police shootings has made police departments, including the city of Phoenix, more willing to provide information on the start of such a tragedy,” said Ortega. “It remains to be seen whether that will continue or whether they will in this situation.”

Ortega did not immediately respond to a phone call from NBC News on Tuesday.

Lisa Wagner, the mother of one of García’s friends, told the Republic that she was waiting on the driveway for her son when the police arrived. Wagner was alerted to their presence when the shots rang out.

She described Garcia as “very polite” and “a good guy,” who sometimes feared his own shadow.

“I still think it is a bad dream and we are going to wake up and we will all laugh at this, but unfortunately I go out on my driveway and realize it is real,” Wagner told the Republic. “Everyone feels that (the police) murdered Jay.”

Locals want more police responsibility

Phoenix police have been under the scrutiny of locals for years, and activists demanded that the department offer more transparency to the public about the use of force by its officers. An analysis of Phoenix police shooting from the Republic in January showed that the department “shot more people than law enforcement officers in any other city in the United States” in 2018.

Of the 212 people shot by the Phoenix police between 2011 and 2018, about half were killed, according to data from the Republic. About 42 percent of the people shot by the police were Hispanic, the majority of any other race, the newspaper found.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the department in 2017 over records related to a protest against President Donald Trump, where critics said police needlessly fired pepper spray and tear gas at protesters. Police launched an internal review in 2018 that revealed that officers fired nearly 500 peppercorns, as well as smoke grenades, sudden explosions, and rounds of bean bags, according to NBC affiliate KPNX.

Last year, thousands attended a local community meeting after the department’s response to a 4-year-old girl who took a doll from a dollar store without her parents’ knowledge. Phoenix officer Chris Meyer, who was fired, pointed his gun at the family and kicked one of the parents during an arrest for the wrist.

The Phoenix City Council approved funds last month for the city’s first police review board, the Office of Accountability and Transparency, KPNX reported. The civilian-led board will receive $ 3 million of the money left over from the coronavirus relief, although activists pushed for the funds to come from the police budget.