The Phoenix Police Department is under fire after several officers were caught on video surrounding a parked car on July 4 and threatening a man inside before unloading at least ten gunshots in a gruesome incident that has sparked renewed protests.
James “Jay” Porter Garcia, 28, was fatally shot while parked in a sedan outside his friend’s one-story Maryvale home, a police spokesperson confirmed to The Daily Beast. In a now-viral video captured by a bystander, at least four officers can be seen surrounding his car—two with their guns drawn—after responding to an aggravated assault call.
“Hey, stop fucking moving. I will fucking shoot you,” one officer can be heard yelling, while other onlookers across the street beg officers to “put the gun down” and “don’t shoot him!”
Seconds later, the officers fired at least ten shots into the car. Authorities later said Garcia pulled out a gun and repeatedly told officers to shoot him.
However Jacqueline Fernandez, Garcia’s sister, wrote in a Facebook post her brother was “unarmed sleeping in the car” when police shot him. Several other witnesses told KSAZ that Garcia was unarmed, but authorities “made sure he was dead” anyway.
“He was not asleep when he was interacting and speaking with officers for approximately 10 minutes,” a police spokesperson told The Daily Beast.
On Sunday, residents protested outside the Maryvale Estrella Mountain precinct in a tense demonstration that resulted in 30 officers responding in riot gear.
While the details of the fatal shooting are still under investigation, authorities on Monday released the 911 call and a 44-second body-camera clip after protests erupted in Phoenix over the weekend.
“It does not shock us that despite all the scrutiny from [the] community Phoenix PD continues to respond violently to calls,” Carlos Garcia, a member of the Phoenix City Council, said in a Facebook post. “But, we must all continue to ask for transparency and accountability. We cannot allow for dishonest narratives to be built by violent departments. We will continue to call for independent investigations into officer-involved shootings.”
Garcia’s death comes just weeks after Arizona residents protested the police-involved death of Carlos Igram Lopez in Tucson, and amid nationwide demonstrations over several other police-related killings.
Authorities said Phoenix police officers arrived the home shortly before 1 p.m. on July 4 after an unidentified man called 911 claiming “a man had tried to kill him a week prior and reported that the person responsible had returned with a knife.” The caller also told police the man “was threatening to harm him again.”
When officers arrived at the Maryvale home, just northwest of downtown Phoenix, the caller said the man who had stabbed him had a knife and another individual had a gun.
The caller then “pointed out a specific home” where he believed the alleged suspect was located. Authorities said that when officers went to the home, they “noticed an adult man sitting in a car parked in the driveway.”
“Officers talked to the man for approximately 10 minutes, asking him to leave his car so they could secure the scene. He refused and eventually rolled up the windows and pulled out a gun,” the Phoenix Police Department said in a statement.
In the two-minute video captured by a bystander, four officers can be seen surrounding Garcia’s four-door beige sedan in the driveway, blocked by a squad car. While other bystanders begged for them to put down their weapons, the officers ordered Garcia to stop moving before one officer broke the passenger side window.
“Officers ordered the man to drop the gun but he refused,” police said in a statement. “The man repeatedly told officers to shoot him and lifted the gun toward officers. That's when two officers fired their weapons.”
While the witness video does not show the shooting, the sound of glass breaking can be heard—followed by a yell. After a brief silence, about ten shots are heard in quick succession.
Police said Garcia was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. It was not clear whether Garcia was the suspect identified by the person who called 911.
The body-camera footage released Monday shows one officer running toward Garcia’s car as other officers stood around the sedan, some with their guns drawn. Authorities said the footage showed the scene immediately after the shooting, and Garcia—who is blurred—is seen slumped over in the driver’s seat.
“Let me glove up,” the officer wearing the camera is heard saying before he puts on gloves and asks a fellow officer where the gun is. The officer is then seen reaching into the car through the shattered driver’s seat window and lifting out a black gun that was allegedly on Garcia’s lap. “Gun is secure,” he is heard yelling.
Local activists and residents have demanded the release of the body-camera footage from the two officers that shot Garcia. Daniel Ortega, the lawyer representing Garcia's family, told The Arizona Republic that the family was also demanding the full bodycam footage. They believed initial statements from the responding officers didn’t tell the whole story.
“I think the political climate that we're in regarding police shootings has made police departments, including the city of Phoenix, more willing to provide information on the onset of such a tragedy,” Ortega said.
A police spokesperson said that, due to the ongoing investigation, authorities were still working to create a Critical Incident Debrief video that will shed more light on the incident. While police have not yet released the names of the officers in the shooting, the spokesperson noted that a 29-year-old male officer who has been with the police force for three years and his 31-year-old colleague, who has two years’ experience, were involved.
“Investigators are in the process of collecting evidence and completing interviews of everyone who was involved in this critical incident,” the spokesperson said. “A determination as to whether the actions of the officers are within policy will not be made until the investigation is complete and all the facts are known.”