Feathered Bastard

Did Phoenix Police Need to Kill Zachariah Pithan?

During the uproar over the 2010 shooting death of South Phoenix resident Danny Rodriguez by former Phoenix Police Officer Richard Chrisman, I often wondered why two Phoenix cops could not subdue one unarmed man without resorting to lethal force.

See also: -Richard Chrisman Report Released by Phoenix Police Department: Read It Here -A Teen's Shooting Death Was Avoidable, Even If the Cops Call It "Justified"

You may recall that the other Phoenix cop on the scene, Officer Sergio Virgillo, indicated that neither Rodriguez nor his dog, which Chrisman also killed, had done anything to justify the use of deadly force.

Chrisman was later fired by the PPD, and still faces charges of second degree murder, aggravated assault, and cruelty to animals. Trial dates in the case keep getting delayed.

Before shooting Rodriguez, Chrisman deployed both his pepper spray and his Taser. Still, Virgillo told investigators that Rodriguez had his hands up and had stepped back before Chrisman plugged him.

The Latino community was incensed by the shooting. The fact Rodriguez was Hispanic and Chrisman an Anglo lent fuel to the fire.

But there is no ethnic conflict when it comes to the shooting death of 22 year-old Zachariah Pithin on April 20, as he and the four officers who confronted him at his apartment that Saturday night are all white.

Perhaps that's why there's been little outcry over Pithin's death. And yet, Pithin's shooting seems just as questionable, if not more so, than the Rodriguez killing, even if we take the PPD's account of the incident as the Gospel truth.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons