Got'em

GITEM, the state's $12 million antigang task force, storms Casa Grande and shoots a smalltime scofflaw in the back

He had his scrapes with the law, but he chose heavy-metal tee shirts over gang colors.

"Yeah, I remember Glen from when he was a kid," says Casa Grande detective Jesse Ybarra, who helped investigate the shooting. "He used to hang out with this kid named Paul McCartney. I remember catching them once, doing something stupid."

He shakes his head.
"Glen Campbell and Paul McCartney. Pretty weird, huh?"
Campbell's adult rap sheet dates to 1987, when he led Casa Grande police on a motorcycle chase. In 1993, while in the throes of a booze-and-methamphetamine binge, he tried to give a DPS officer the slip. The stunt landed him in jail for several months and cost him his driver's license.

Tom Larson admits his client is no choirboy. "It's not the Kennedys of this world who wind up in this situation," Larson says.

But he notes that when Campbell fled into the desert, none of the pursuing officers knew who they were chasing.

Campbell had left his girlfriend's house around 10:30 p.m. and was driving to the trailer park north of town where he lived with his mother. As he turned off the highway, he saw something that made his stomach turn.

"There was cops, everywhere," he says, practically shuddering at the recollection. "I didn't want nothing to do with them."

Campbell cut off his headlights and eased the truck into the desert, where he figured he could wait for the heat to let up. He parked on a dirt road, but, after a few minutes, the helicopter droned low overhead.

Inside the copter, pilot William Sapp and his co-pilot scanned the desert with night-vision goggles and thermal imaging equipment. Sapp noticed the pickup and relayed its location to officers on the ground, several of whom dropped what they were doing to investigate the "suspicious" vehicle.

Campbell heard the throb of the helicopter, started the truck and drove off.
"Then I seen a car, and I knew it was a cop--it's just flying through the desert," he remembers glumly.

Sapp watched from above as Campbell leaped out of the truck and ran into a wash, where he curled up beneath a large mesquite bush, hoping to escape detection.

It was a vain effort. Against the cool of the desert floor, Campbell stuck out.

Guided by Sapp, three officers on foot closed in on their quarry. When Campbell heard them in the brush nearby, he emerged from his hiding place and jumped a barbed-wire fence.

According to police reports, he shouted for the officers to stay away as he waved a pocketknife with a 3.5-inch blade over his shoulder. He said he wouldn't go back to jail.

Sapp switched on his aircraft's bright landing light, which he kept focused on Campbell.

After Campbell had run for about a mile, Sapp activated the VCR to record the infrared images.

On at least three occasions, officers got close enough to empty practically their entire cans of pepper spray into Campbell's face. One officer even grabbed Campbell by the shoulder. Even though Campbell easily could have made use of his pocketknife, he never did.

Then again, he didn't need to. Because of an uncooperative breeze, the noxious, choking spray kept wafting back into the officers' faces, forcing them to retreat time and again. After almost two miles, though, it appears the lawmen had had enough.

On the video, three officers--Jo Dean Freese, Scott Armstrong and Wes Ellington--are seen lining up shoulder to shoulder behind Campbell with their weapons drawn and leveled at his back. During questioning after the shooting, they guessed they were ten to 15 feet away.

Campbell continued to walk away, occasionally looking over his shoulder, waving the knife.

"Stop, right where you're at," Freese reportedly told Campbell as he blinked through pepper spray and gasped for breath. "You turn around and point that knife at me one more time, I'm going to shoot you."

When Campbell began to turn his torso, Freese shot him in the back with his .45.

Campbell moaned and clutched his side where the bullet exited. He took a few more steps and collapsed on his face. The three officers quickly rolled him over and handcuffed him as other cops who had been straggling along caught up and began to mill around.

While waiting for an emergency helicopter to land and whisk him to a Phoenix emergency room, where toxicology reports would later reveal "abnormal" amounts of methamphetamine in his blood, the wounded Campbell begged to be shot again.

Casa Grande police were called in to conduct a criminal investigation. Freese told investigators he went and sat down "to take a few deep breaths" after pulling the trigger.

Joel Jerale, a Chandler police officer on loan to GITEM, remembered things differently. Freese "seemed to be, uh, pretty much beside himself . . . ," Jerale told investigators.

Kevin Jex, a DPS officer assigned to GITEM, remembered seeing Freese kneel down, as if to pray. "He seemed to be crying . . ." Jex told Casa Grande police.

Under Arizona law, officers may use deadly force only after all other measures at their disposal--verbal commands, pepper spray, batons--have failed. And unless officers believe a suspect poses a serious threat and must be captured immediately, the law prohibits them from firing warning shots, or at fleeing felons.

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