Phoenix, AZ – Cell phone footage captured the moment when an armed suspect was fatally shot by Phoenix police on Saturday (video below).
The incident occurred outside a residence near Indian School Road and 51st Avenue just before 1 p.m. on July 4, The Arizona Republic reported.
According to the Phoenix Police Department (PPD), officers responded to the home after they received a report that a suspect who was allegedly involved in an aggravated assault one week earlier had returned to the area armed with a knife.
When they arrived at the scene, they were directed to a residence where the suspect was thought to be located, The Arizona Republic reported.
They soon spotted a male sitting in a vehicle parked in the driveway of the home they’d been ushered towards, police said.
Officers approached the vehicle and told the man behind the wheel that they were investigating an aggravated assault case, BuzzFeed News reported.
They eventually asked him to exit his vehicle.
“At this point, he refused, instead rolling up his window and arming himself with a handgun,” the PPD said, according to BuzzFeed News.
Bystanders began yelling at the suspect to “put the gun down,” cell phone footage showed.
At least one officer warned the gunman that he would shoot him if he did not comply with their orders.
PPD said that the suspect ignored commands to drop the weapon, and instead began raising the gun towards one of them just as an officer smashed his passenger side window in an effort to distract him, The Arizona Republic reported.
“One officer saw the gun pointed at a fellow officer and broke the passenger window trying to distract the suspect,” police said, according to BuzzFeed News.
Two officers fired their weapons, hitting the suspect.
The gunman, identified by Phoenix City Councilman Carlos Garcia and his fellow protesters as James “Jay” Garcia, was fatally shot during the altercation, The Arizona Republic reported.
He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
It is unclear whether or not James Garcia was the suspect the officers had initially been searching for, according to BuzzFeed News.
As news of the officer-involved shooting spread, critics alleged that police shot James Garcia as he was sleeping in his driveway, The Arizona Republic reported.
“The suspect was not asleep in the vehicle,” PPD spokesperson Sergeant Mercedes Fortune told the paper. “He armed himself which is what lead to the officer involved shooting.”
But Carlos Garcia, the city councilman, said that the shooting was evidence that the PPD is continuing “to respond violently to calls” despite “all the scrutiny from the community.”
“It does not shock us that despite all the scrutiny from community Phoenix PD continues to respond violently to calls,” he alleged in a Facebook post on Sunday. “But, we must all continue to ask for transparency and accountability.”
“The department also issued a premature statement leaving out facts about the case,” the councilman alleged. “We cannot allow for dishonest narratives to be built by violent departments. We will continue to call for independent investigations into officer involved shootings.”
Carlos Garcia further accused PPD of twisting the truth about how they came into contact with the gunman, The Arizona Republic reported.
“I think the fact that it’s not clear who they went out there for was James himself and, by alluding to saying they were responding to something, it made it seem as if he was the one and, from what I can gather at this point, he was not the one they were looking for to begin with,” the councilman declared.
Steven Merry, who identified himself as a friend of James Garcia, claimed that police shot him for no reason, KSAZ reported.
“They put the gun on his head like this and they’re still telling him not to move, to get his hand off a gun he (didn’t) have and then they shot him again,” Merry alleged. “They made sure he was dead.”
James Garcia’s family’s attorney, Danny Ortega, said that the incident was “another tragic loss in the community involving a police-involved shooting,” BuzzFeed News reported.
Ortega has called on PPD to release bodycam footage of the incident.
Protesters echoed that demand as they held a demonstration in honor of the armed suspect on Sunday.
“He may have deserved to go to jail, but he didn’t deserve to die,” W.E. Rising Project spokesperson Fe’la Iniko told the group of approximately 50 demonstrators, according to The Arizona Republic.
The group marched down Encanto Boulevard chanting James Garcia’s name until they encountered PPD officers in riot gear surrounding the Maryvale Estrella Mountain Precinct at approximately 9 p.m.
“We don’t see no riot here! Why are you in riot gear?” the mob chanted as they squared off with the line of officers.
According to The Arizona Republic, the demonstrators told each other that they should continue marching and avoid engaging with the police.
“We know that police have been very aggressive at certain times and we don’t want to give them any reason to try to antagonize us,” protester Percy Christian told The Arizona Republic.
“We are the ones protecting your rights,” protester Andrea Alvarado chimed in. “The officers standing around us want to take away your rights away. They kill innocent civilians while we protest for their lives.”
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content and Obscene Language: