Report Finds DPS Shooting of Alexander Wilson Justified, But Witness Says Officer Was Not In Danger
Phoenix PD released a report that rules the shooting death of 16-year-old Alexander Wilson by a still unnamed DPS officer was justifiable.
The police report states that the officer feared for his life when Wilson tried to flee in an SUV and was therefore justified in the shooting. But the report also reveals a man police interviewed who says the DPS officer was not in the line of harm, appeared to have confidently and assertively approached the vehicle, fired before the SUV moved, and even says that after the shooting he over heard the officer telling another cop that the suspect "had pulled out a gun on me."
The shooting has stirred some in the community to call it an act of an officer abusing his authority, or even racial profiling, and the family has retained a lawyer.
The Chevron and blue donation box near where the DPS officer shot Wilson.
The officer is left handed and Brown, the passenger, says the officer initially used the blue bin for cover. Wilson had his hands on the steering wheel, his window up, and Brown says they couldn't hear a thing the officer had been saying.
"I'm feelin' to smash," Brown remembers Wilson saying over and over, meaning he wants to get out of there.
Wilson looked over at the officer and tried to throw the car into drive. The SUV's engine revved, like the driver "could not get it into gear," the report states.
It had only been a matter of seconds, by the DPS officer's own account, from when he had jumped from his car, rifle in hand, to when he shot through the window and killed Wilson.
In the Phoenix PD report, Rodriguez says he thinks the officer fired before the car had a chance to move, and that he was close enough to all of this that he could see the hole the bullet made through the driver's side window.
Brown says the Tahoe finally slipped into gear and lurched forward with Wilson's lifeless foot on the gas pedal. Brown reached over and tried to steer the SUV, but bailed before it crashed through a cinderblock fence and into someone's home.
Officers ran after the car and more squad cars pulled up to the scene. It was around this time that Rodriguez says he heard the DPS officer yelling to other cops that Wilson had pulled a gun on him. But police found no weapons or drugs in the car.
The DPS officer told Phoenix PD, who conducted the investigation, that he feared for his life and safety, that "he fired because he thought the driver was going to kill him."
Local activist Reverend Jarrett Maupin says there is no way the officer could have been in harms way. The officer shot through the driver side window, meaning he was not in front of the vehicle, and was in no present danger of being ran over.
Maupin conducted most of Wilson's funeral service and reminded family and friends that the community would seek justice, calling Wilson's death tragic, but most of all, completely avoidable.
"God did not kill Alex," Maupin says. "A middle-aged white man with a hand gun, whose name has not been released, whose face we cannot see, who was called by police a victim, and not a victimizer, [killed Alex]."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.