Chandler Officer Told Teen He Killed That It Was "Stupid" to Reach for Gun

Anthony Cano displayed a common Chandler gang sign and his illegal Glock on Snapchat hours before a police officer shot him. (Cano's face was redacted by Chandler PD).
Anthony Cano displayed a common Chandler gang sign and his illegal Glock on Snapchat hours before a police officer shot him. (Cano's face was redacted by Chandler PD). Chandler Police
Bleeding and in handcuffs in a dark Chandler park, 17-year-old Anthony Cano explained that he'd tried to toss the gun he was carrying "so he wouldn't get shot."

The officer who shot him twice in the back, Chase Bebak-Miller, told the boy his action had been "stupid." As Bebak-Miller explained to him, and later, to investigators, he thought Cano was pulling the gun on him.

The exchange was one of the new details found in a report released by Chandler police last week regarding the controversial January 2 shooting. The report also states that the boy flashed a gang sign and displayed his stolen firearm on Snapchat in the hours before the fatal shooting. Police released those photos to Phoenix New Times on Friday. Earlier last week, the department also released unedited bodycam footage, a move that came before a protest in Chandler of the shooting.

As the report relates, Bebak-Miller says that at about 9:20 p.m. that night, he saw a person on a bicycle that wasn't equipped with rear reflectors "bobbing and weaving" over the road's center lane, meaning he was at times riding on the wrong side of the road. The officer activated his flashers, causing Cano to abandon the bike and attempt to flee through Gazelle Meadows Park.

A civilian on a ridealong with the officer witnessed part of the incident and said that when Bebak-Miller began pursuing Cano, something very large in the bike rider's pocket was bouncing up and down, which the civilian believed might be a gun.

Bodycam footage shows that when Bebak-Miller chased Cano on foot through the park, the boy dropped the handgun he'd been carrying, which was equipped with an extended magazine. Bebak-Miller fired one shot at Cano in the split-second after the boy reached to pick up the pistol and tossed it away. Then, as the boy lay on the ground, the gun several feet from him, Bebak-Miller put another round in his back.

Bebak-Miller told an investigator that he believed Cano was turning the gun toward him when he reacted, shooting twice.

"...He realizes after the second shot that the male subject is no longer holding the pistol and it got tossed," the report says.

In the video, Cano can be heard saying, "I'm sorry, sir. I can't," when Bebak-Miller tells him to put his hands behind his back. Bebak-Miller and another officer who arrived on the scene eventually got the wounded boy in handcuffs. That's when Cano told the officer that he had just wanted "to throw the gun away."

"That was stupid," Bebak-Miller reportedly replied.

Cano died in a hospital three weeks later, on January 23.

click to enlarge Anthony Cano - GOFUNDME
Anthony Cano
Distraught family members told the news media that they didn't believe Cano was in a gang or owned a gun. A woman who identified herself as Cano's aunt said she had just learned of the two Snapchat photos that she showed to police.

In the first photo, which Cano had posted the day before he was shot, he's displaying "an East Side Chandler gang symbol," said Sergeant Jason McClimans.

About seven hours before he was shot, he posted a photo of himself holding the Glock, captioning the picture, "Midday Adventures."

His mother, Renee Clum, told the Arizona Republic that she "later learned his siblings found his social media and saw that he was being bullied and threatened online."

"I can only assume he feared for his life, and that was his thought to get a gun to protect himself," Clum told the paper.

Clum told police that her son "had recently finished his probation in September 2020" related to a fight he was involved in, but she didn't know him to be involved in gangs or that he had a firearm.

The gun, a Glock 17 9mm, didn't have a round chambered, but its magazine was loaded to capacity with 31 rounds. Police traced the gun to a pawn shop, then to a man who sold it to his cousin for $950. The cousin confirmed that she'd bought the pistol and said it had been stolen from her purse. She wasn't sure exactly when it was stolen, but it apparently happened one or more days before Cano came into possession of it. She didn't report the theft.

With a few exceptions, such as for kids on farms or at a shooting range, it's a Class 6 felony under Arizona law for someone under 18 to carry a loaded weapon.

Renee Crum declined to speak with New Times. But her father, Ivan Crum, said that the boy's bedroom door was never locked and that Renee "had been in his room and had never seen indications of a gun."

Possessing a stolen gun would be out of character for Cano, whom he'd known for the boy's whole life, he said.

"That doesn't compute to me," Crum said, adding that he realizes the boy had been armed. "He was a pretty good kid."

Crum downplayed the hand sign that Cano had posted on Snapchat, pointing out that "good teenagers" may sometimes flash gang signs, and it doesn't mean he was in a gang.

McClimans said that Bebak-Miller, who was put on modified assignment since the shooting, "was doing his job."

"No officer I've ever known planned to go out and get in an officer-involved shooting," he said.

The officer, and Chandler police, have been criticized heavily by civil-rights advocates for releasing bodycam video after the shooting that cut out before Cano could be seen tossing the pistol away.

"This guy needs to get off the streets," a protester said of Bebak-Miller during a rally for justice in Cano's case on March 5. "He should not be a police officer."

Below, you can read the redacted report, and see the graphic bodycam video of Cano's shooting that was released last week.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern