Tempe Police Didn't Have to Shoot Austin Del Castillo, His Friends Say

Makeshift memorials for Austin Del Castillo are set up at the corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive in Tempe, where Del Castillo was shot by Tempe police earlier this month.

"Don't believe what the news says[,] the police definitely have a choice," read signs posted at that corner.

After a week in the hospital, Del Castillo died, and his friends obviously disagree with an officer's decision to shoot him.

See also:
-Austin Del Castillo, Man Shot by Tempe Police on Mill Avenue, Dies

Police said Del Castillo, 36, was shot in front of the Chili's restaurant at Mill Avenue and University Drive on the morning of September 19 after lunging at officers with a box cutter.

According to a police spokesman, the officer who shot Del Castillo was responding to calls about a man threatening people on Mill Avenue with a knife or box cutter.

Of the friends we've spoken to, none of them knows what Del Castillo was doing that morning.

But did police really need to shoot a man who was wielding a knife? Isn't there a reason officers carry Tasers?

We're told Del Castillo was well-known in the local rave scene (as evidenced by his friends' comments, and the pacifier in the photo above). A memorial planned for Tempe is in the works, with DJs, club lighting, and all.

Both the shooting and Del Castillo's alleged actions seem out of the ordinary. Many times, people shot by police have had several run-ins with law enforcement before. State and county court records show Del Castillo's most serious run-ins with law enforcement are traffic tickets.

The day before Del Castillo was shot, Maricopa County Bill Montgomery noted that police shootings are on the rise in the county, as he counted 41 this year, which presumably makes Del Castillo's shooting number 42. There were 48 police shootings all of last year, Montgomery said.

It's unfortunate, but Del Castillo's case isn't completely uncommon. Earlier this year, Phoenix police fatally shot a man wielding a table leg. Tempe PD also shot a man who chucked a wine bottle at an officer.

Tempe police said they have nothing to add in Del Castillo's case. His shooter, a 12-year veteran of the department, is on administrative leave.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.