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Mesa settles lawsuit in police shooting of an unarmed man

Angel Benitez
Posted at 6:20 AM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 09:20:23-04

MESA, AZ — The city of Mesa has paid out $250,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit involving the police shooting of an unarmed man.

Angel Benitez, 21, was killed on September 25, 2020.

Police body-cam video shows officers found Benitez in a Panda Express parking lot asleep in a car reported stolen. Officers at the time mentioned they did not see a weapon in the car. Police said Benitez woke up and drove off, and they said he later refused to pull over for a traffic stop.

Mesa police later found him parked in a Tempe apartment complex near Evergreen Road and University Drive.

Some witnesses claimed Benitez had his hands up and was complying with officers. Officers said he reached toward his waistband, which they perceived as a threat.

Multiple officers opened fire.

Benitez had no weapons. He died.

Benitez’s mom filed a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming wrongful death and excessive force. The $250,000 settlement contract was signed in January. ABC15 obtained a copy of the agreement in March.

“No amount of money will bring back the life of Angel Benitez," said the family's lawyer Benjamin Taylor. "However, we are glad this settlement brings a sense of justice to his family who have suffered tremendously since Angel’s tragic death.”

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges against the officers involved.

Got a news tip? Email ABC15 Investigator Melissa Blasius at Melissa.Blasius@abc15.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.