Phoenix police kill suspected motorcycle thief during shootout | Phoenix New Times

Phoenix cops kill suspected motorcycle thief during shootout

Police shot Joshua Main on June 2 after he allegedly stole a bike and raised a gun at officers.
A still from Phoenix police body-cam footage showing the moment after an officer shot Joshua Main, who died of his injuries.
A still from Phoenix police body-cam footage showing the moment after an officer shot Joshua Main, who died of his injuries. Phoenix Police Department
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Two Phoenix police officers shot and killed Joshua Main, 27, shortly after they arrived on June 2 to investigate a report of an armed robbery. Police said Main pulled a handgun and fired at officers.

Limited footage of the shooting — which includes no audio — was released Friday by the Phoenix Police Department as part of the agency's “critical incident briefing," which is made public after any police shooting or in-custody death. The briefings are narrated by officers and include edited compilations of body camera footage, dispatch audio and other information regarding an incident.

Main was the eighth person killed by Phoenix police so far in 2024. The previous year, police shot and killed 12 people, an increase from 2022 when Phoenix cops killed 10.

On Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department released a long-awaited report from a nearly three-year investigation into Phoenix police. Among other conclusions, the report found that Phoenix police have a pattern of using excessive and unjustified deadly force.

‘I’m scared’

The briefing released Friday included 911 dispatch audio in which an unidentified woman reported that a man armed with a handgun was trying to rob her boyfriend of a motorcycle in an alley in central Phoenix. The woman added that Main had indicated he wanted to purchase the bike before pulling out a weapon.

Though the woman did not know the nearby cross streets when speaking to a dispatcher, Phoenix police said the shooting occurred near 13th Street and Palm Lane.

“I’m scared because my son’s in the car,” the woman told the dispatcher.

Body-cam footage released by police began as the two officers, Ryan O'Hayer and Alexander Kubes, pulled into the alley at 1:53 p.m. This portion of the video had no sound. Phoenix police said the department’s body cameras record without audio for 60 seconds before being manually activated. According to footage released by the department, O'Hayer appeared to attempt to activate his camera but failed.

Footage showed O'Hayer trying to open the driver’s side door and then pulling out his handgun from behind the door when he opens it. The video also showed him pointing the weapon not directly at Main but instead angled toward the ground between them. Almost immediately, the footage showed, Main raised what police said was a handgun.

Police said both officers then fired at Main, O'Hayer with a handgun and Kubes on the passenger side of the vehicle with a carbine rifle. Footage showed O'Hayer firing several shots while backing away from the open door. The door’s window shattered — from whose gunfire it is not clear — and displayed evidence of at least three bullet strikes.

O'Hayer fired seven shots with the handgun and Kubes fired 11 shots from the rifle, according to police records. Police said they recovered the gun allegedly used by Main as well as one of its bullet casings. “Evidence found at the scene indicated the man did fire his gun,” the briefing said, though the briefing did not specify whether officers or Main fired first.

Body-cam footage then showed O'Hayer moving closer to the car door as Main tumbled from the motorcycle onto the ground. At that point, O'Hayer successfully activated his camera, and audio began to record, though no further footage from his camera was included in the briefing.

click to enlarge In the foreground is part of a hand holding a handgun. Beyond is a blurry image of a man on a motorcycle pointing something at the viewer. A red circle has been drawn over the man's hand.
An image from Phoenix police body-cam footage showed what police said is the moment Joshua Main raised a weapon at an officer.
Phoenix Police Department

Gun recovered

The critical incident briefing was the third since mid-May in which footage provided by police did not include body-cam audio or clear video.

Video footage from the May 16 shooting of Devin Montgomery included no audio because, police said, Montgomery fired at an officer unexpectedly. Body-cam footage from the May 28 killing of Sergio Francisco Alvarez showed no footage from the beginning of the incident — an omission police have not explained — and only limited footage from the shooting itself because both officers’ body-cams were knocked to the ground.

In its briefing, the department said the officers were assigned to the Mountain View precinct. O'Hayer has been with the department for six years and Kubes has four years of service. Phoenix police spokesperson Donna Rossi did not respond to Phoenix New Times' inquiry about whether or not the officers have been put on leave.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office opened a criminal investigation into the shooting, and police are conducting an internal investigation to determine if officers followed department policy.
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