Phoenix police release video footage of officers killing two men | Phoenix New Times


Phoenix police release video footage of officers killing two men

The footage sheds new light on the two deaths, which are the eighth and ninth fatal shootings by Phoenix police this year.
The pellet gun that police claim Juan Reynoso picked up before he was shot and killed by officers on June 28.
The pellet gun that police claim Juan Reynoso picked up before he was shot and killed by officers on June 28. Phoenix Police Department
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The Phoenix Police Department has released body camera footage in two recent police killings, one in late June involving a replica gun and the other in early July during an investigation into a possible burglary at a storage unit.

The two victims — Juan Reynoso, 26, and Raul Mendez, 35 — were shot and killed by officers on June 28 and July 1, respectively. Their deaths were the eighth and ninth killings by Phoenix police this year.

The footage is part of the agency's “critical incident briefings," which are released 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. Activists have criticized the department's decision to release edited videos, rather than complete footage, of fatal incidents.

Since Reynoso and Mendez were killed, Phoenix officers shot and killed a 10th person: 35-year-old Armando Reyes. Officers claimed Reyes pointed a gun at them before he was killed. However, the agency has not yet released body camera footage or other evidence about Reyes' death.

Man shot as he flees from police

A neighbor of Reynoso called police on June 28 and claimed that she had witnessed him assault his wife, according to the briefing. "It's not the first time he hits her," the neighbor told dispatchers. "He grabbed her by the neck and threw her back inside."

The couple had six kids and lived together, the neighbor told dispatch. His family, including his wife, told Phoenix New Times that the neighbor made a false report to police, and that there had not been physical violence between Reynoso and his wife.

Body camera footage shows officers speaking to Reynoso outside of the apartment while a young woman also stood outside with officers. In the footage, Reynoso can be seen pacing back and forth.

At one point, an officer attempted to grab Reynoso and detain him. Reynoso broke free and ran from police. Both officers pursued Reynoso on foot until he reached a lawn across the street, where footage shows him grabbing something off of the ground. It is not clear what the object is in the footage.

One officer can be heard shouting, "Hey, he's got a gun. Put it down, put it down.” Immediately following the officer’s command, at least one officer shoots Reynoso as he is stepping away from them. The agency said that both officers shot him, but that's not clear from the body camera footage.

Reynoso then fell to the ground, yelling. The weapon officers believed to be a gun was a pellet gun that looked like a handgun, the agency said. A photo of the pellet gun was displayed in the video.

Reynoso was taken to a local hospital for treatment but later succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead.

Man killed as police investigate storage unit break in

According to released dispatch audio, officers encountered Mendez on July 1 when responding to a call that a couple was trying to break into a storage unit at Storage Sense, a facility located at Washington and 30th streets in east Phoenix.

"He's trying to break into a door that's locked," the caller told dispatchers.

The body camera footage released in the briefing begins when officers arrived and detained Mendez and his companion. The two are seen seated against the doors of separate storage units, about 10 feet apart. One officer attempted to run a records check on Mendez, but he had given the officer a false name and couldn't be identified.

At that point, one officer said, "Now you're being detained," and two officers attempted to handcuff Mendez. The body camera of one of the officers fell off, according to the video, so it did not capture what occurred. The other officer's body camera remained in place but did not provide a clear view of the incident.

The two officers struggled with Mendez for about a minute as they tried to handcuff him. "Stop fucking grabbing the Taser, or I'm going to shoot you," one officer said, although whether or not Mendez successfully grabbed the device is not captured in the footage. At this point, several gunshots can be heard.

According to the Phoenix police briefing, Mendez did receive gunshot wounds and was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Both officers were injured in the encounter and one received "serious but non-life-threatening" injuries, police said.
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Raul Mendez sat against a storage unit before police attempted to handcuff him.
Phoenix Police Department

14 fatal incidents so far in 2023

Phoenix police officers have shot and killed 10 people so far this year. Officers were also involved in an additional four fatal incidents. In some of those cases, the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner determined that the deaths were not caused by officers.
  • Jan. 3: Officers shot and killed Cosme Medina Núñez, a 46-year-old man who was holding a pair of scissors.

  • Jan. 7: Officers shot and killed Kenneth Hearne, 37, who was armed with a handgun. Hearne shot a Scottsdale police officer the day prior.

  • Feb. 11: Bryan Funk, a 40-year-old man who had just been released from prison, died after multiple officers pinned him to the ground and restrained his legs during an arrest. The medical examiner later determined that Funk's death was the result of meth intoxication and a heart condition, according to a report obtained by New Times.

  • Feb. 22: Derin Holmes, 41, died of a gunshot wound. Although officers fired at Holmes, Phoenix police said the fatal wound was self-inflicted. A subsequent investigation by the county medical examiner also determined Holmes died by suicide.

  • Feb. 22: Officers shot and killed Jason Resendez, 47, who pulled out a gun as officers approached him.

  • Feb. 25: Officers shot and killed Matthew Anthony Sansotta, 36, during a DUI investigation.

  • March 5: Officers shot and killed James Saucedo, 42. Officers said Saucedo shot a woman before they arrived. Body camera footage showed him grabbing his gun during a struggle with officers before he was fatally shot.

  • March 6: Officers shot and killed Anthony Castro, 40. Officers said Castro was stabbing a woman when he was shot.

  • March 14: Police said Daniel Parra, 37, fled when officers tried to stop him as he walked in an HOV lane on Interstate 17. Officers chased Parra into a QuikTrip near Cactus Road, where he brandished a knife and barricaded himself in a storage room and set it afire, police said. When SWAT officers entered the room, Parra was unresponsive. An investigation by the medical examiner determined that Parra's primary cause of death was smoke inhalation.

  • April 1: Officers shot and killed Dwight Cornwell, 76, after he shot a handgun into the air while they were investigating reports of an attempted burglary at an apartment complex.

  • June 19: Luis Mateo Jacobo Borja, 29, died after shooting at multiple police officers during a pursuit, sending two officers to the hospital. Police said it's still unclear whether Borja died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound or from an officer's rifle fire.

  • June 28: Officers shot and killed Juan Reynoso, 26, who they claimed was holding a gun, which later turned out to be a replica.

  • July 1: Officers shot and killed Raul Mendez, 35, while responding to a complaint about a burglary. They claimed Mendez tried to grab an officer's Taser during a struggle.

  • July 17: Officers shot and killed Armando Reyes, 35, after responding to a call for a traffic accident. The police report indicated that Reyes had a gun and refused to comply with officers' commands.
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