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Phoenix police chief asks for FBI review in officer-involved shooting death of James Garcia

Posted at 4:50 PM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 20:23:20-04

PHOENIX — The chief of Phoenix police is asking for the FBI's assistance with an independent review of an officer-involved shooting on Saturday that left a suspect dead.

"I am taking this step in the best interest of my employees, my department, and the city," Chief Jeri Williams said on a Monday letter regarding the death of James Garcia. "I recognize this is a time of community distrust. I hope this step will allow our community to feel confident in the findings."

On July 4, officers went to a home near 57th Avenue and Indian School Road after reports of a man threatening people with a knife.

When police arrived on scene, the victim directed them to a home nearby where the Garcia was sitting outside in his car. Officers approached Garcia and explained they were investigating an aggravated assault and asked him to get out of the vehicle.

Police say Garcia refused, rolled up his windows, and took out a handgun. According to police, Garcia began to lift the gun toward officers, prompting two of them to fire their weapons.

Garcia was taken to the hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Phoenix police on Monday released partial body camera video of the incident, but the footage only showed the moments after the shooting.

In her letter Tuesday announcing the FBI review, Williams said the Saturday incident also highlights the need for timely release of body-worn camera footage and other audio or video of police-involved shootings.

"Last fall, as part of our commitment to transparency, we set a goal to release this information and video within 45 days of a critical incident," Williams noted. "To meet the needs of our community and build trust, we will move that timeline up, releasing available body-worn video within a 10 to 14-day window."

This is the second time in less than a month that the FBI will be getting involved with a deadly shooting involving Arizona law enforcement officers.

In June, officials with the FBI said they would be reviewing evidence in the May 25 shooting death of Dion Johnson. So far no information has come from that review.

Johnson, 28, was shot and killed by a Department of Public Safety trooper after being found asleep in his car along Loop 101 near Tatum Boulevard. The DPS trooper involved was reportedly not wearing a body camera at the time.

Both Garcia's and Johnson's deaths have sparked rallies and vigils calling for more accountability from local authorities.