Protests have erupted in Phoenix, Ariz. after a video (available further in this article) was posted online showing police officers fatally shooting James Garcia in Maryvale, in greater Phoenix, on July 4. Garcia was sitting in his car in a driveway when he was shot by two police officers. He was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The Phoenix Police Department did not release the identity of the man, but Garcia’s family members and a city council member confirmed that the man killed was James Garcia. The police department did not release the names of the officers involved in the shooting either, but Buzzfeed News reported that one is a 29-year-old male officer who has been with the police force for three years and the other is a 31-year-old man who is a 2-year veteran.
The incident was captured on video by a bystander, who posted it online. It has since gone viral. The video shows four police officers around the vehicle and two of them are pointing their guns at Garcia, who’s in the driver’s seat. Bystanders can be heard on the video yelling and swearing at the officers and saying, “Don’t shoot him!” The video captures one officer saying: “Hey, stop fucking moving. I’ll f**king shoot you.” Immediately after, a series of gunshots are fired.
The video was shared by city council member Carlos Garcia and is available below. Take note that the video is graphic and may disturb viewers.
The Phoenix Police Issued a Brief Statement About the Incident
The Phoenix Police Department posted a statement to their Facebook outlining the circumstances around the fatal shooting. It says that shortly before 1 p.m. on July 4, a 911 call was placed for the area of 5600 W. Glenrosa Ave. According to police, the caller stated that “a man had tried to kill him a week prior and reported that the person responsible had returned with a knife and was threatening to harm him again.”
Police officers responded and spoke to the 911 caller, who “pointed out a specific home where he said the stabbing suspect was currently located.” The statement indicates that the officers called for backup and headed toward the home when they spotted “an adult man sitting in a car parked in the driveway.” Officers spoke to the man and explained what they were investigating. They said they asked the man to get out of the vehicle, but “he refused, instead rolling up his window and arming himself with a handgun.”
They described the events that followed:
Officers instructed the man to drop the handgun. He did not drop the gun but began to lift it. One officer saw the gun pointed at a fellow officer and broke the passenger window trying to distract the suspect. Two other officers fired their weapons into the vehicle at the man.
Many, Including Garcia’s Family, Are Unhappy About the Police Statement & Are Demanding Transparency
Garcia’s sister, Jacqueline Fernandez, posted the video on Facebook and disputed the police’s description of the events. She wrote: “Phoenix P.D shot my brother who was unarmed sleeping in the car.” A police spokesperson said that Garcia wasn’t sleeping in his car: “The suspect was not asleep in the vehicle, he armed himself which is what lead to the officer involved shooting,” Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said in an emailed statement.
The police has not indicated whether Garcia was in fact the shooting suspect identified on the 911 call.
Councilmember Carlos Garcia wrote on Facebook: “It does not shock us that despite all the scrutiny from community Phoenix PD continues to respond violently to calls. But, we must all continue to ask for transparency and accountability. The department also issued a premature statement leaving out facts about the case. We cannot allow for dishonest narratives to be built by violent departments. We will continue to call for independent investigations into officer involved shootings.”