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On birthday, Valley family demands justice for son who was shot and killed by police

Posted at 3:14 PM, May 13, 2023

PHOENIX — Four years after Phoenix police shot and killed a 19-year-old suspected of being involved in armed robberies, his family is still seeking justice.

Saturday would’ve been Jacob Harris’ 24th birthday. Instead of celebrating with him, his family, friends and other activists gathered at Phoenix City Hall to continue demanding justice for his death.

“It just hurts to know to celebrate his birthday, and he’s not there” said Roland Harris, Jacob’s dad.

Phoenix Police shot and killed Jacob after an alleged armed robbery in January 2019. Police said Jacob and several other people were seen robbing a fast-food restaurant.

When officers stopped their car near 91st Avenue and Camelback, Phoenix PD said Jacob ran and claim he pointed a gun at officers. That’s when officers shot him.

Aerial police footage was unsealed years later. Jacob’s family kept fighting for that video to be released.

“It’s just sad we have to do this, especially in this day and age. One thing we are glad about, and I say we, me and his mom definitely, that the video was able to be released to show what they really did to Jacob,” Roland said.

The family filed an excessive force lawsuit, which now, they’re working on getting appealed through the federal courts.

On Saturday, the group set out a list of demands to the City of Phoenix. This included intervention from the Department of Justice into the Phoenix Police Department, which is an ongoing investigation.

They also asked for Jacob’s property to be released back to the family, disbandment of the "Special Assignments Unit," termination of the officers involved, and release of Jacob’s friends, who were allegedly involved in the armed robberies, according to police.

“It’s a tiring fight and it really is a long haul in a lot of these cases, unfortunately. A lot of our demands fall on deaf ears. In order for us to get the justice we deserve, we have to come out here, we have to speak loud,” said Mimi Araya, an organizer for the Black Live Matters Phoenix metro.

“There could never be enough justice for us. We lost our son. Our family lost him. They lost somebody that they look to as a protector, especially his little sisters,” Roland said.

Previously, Phoenix Police told ABC15 they couldn’t comment due to pending litigation. ABC15 reached out on Saturday, asking for comment following the rally, however, they said they could not provide a response at the time of reporting.