Search documents reveal new details in officer involved shooting of Francisco Valdez

Posted at 7:02 PM, Jun 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-27 22:39:19-04

A grieving mother is demanding answers after an officer involved shooting in Phoenix.

Francisco Valdez was killed inside his W. Van Buren Street trailer three months ago. His mother, Loreza Valdez, said he had been suffering from depression and she called police for help when he was getting out of control. She thought they would just help get him in check. The domestic violence call ended with shots fired and Valdez dead instead.

Police say Valdez lunged at them with a knife, while his mother claims she did not see a knife at all.

Today, flanked on both sides by community activists from Puente, Arizona and the Center for Neighborhood Leadership, Valdez pleaded for justice for her son.

"It's been over three months that they killed my son, and I have not received any answers," said Valdez.

"Lorenza that day, was told by detectives that she would have video footage and police reports within days," added Viridiana Hernandez, the Director for the Center for Neighborhood Leadership.

Francisca Porchas, a community activist with Puente, Arizona called on Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams and Mayor Greg Stanton to demand transparency within the department.

"Our call to Chief Jeri Williams is when you took office, you promised to be a representative of the community, not just Phoenix police officers. This is your test," said Porchas.

While the community groups claimed they had received no answers, ABC15 did some digging through public records and discovered some of the public records in this case have, in fact, already been made public.

The community just needs to know where to look. 

Russell Richelsoph with the Tempe based law firm Davis Miles McGuire Gardner said it was routine and in fact legal for police reports to be withheld until the investigation was complete.

"Police reports are not a public record until an investigation is complete. While an investigation is ongoing, police are not required to disclose the report by Arizona public law," explained Richelsoph.

While police may not be ready to disclose the information, there are other ways to get access to public documents.

ABC15 Arizona easily found search warrants that answered some of the questions this family may have in the Maricopa County Clerk of Courts office at 601 W. Jackson Street.

In the basement are computers anyone in the public can access. 

Search warrants we dug up indicate police found several bullet casings in the home, along with a potato peeler on the living room floor, a kitchen knife and a white plastic knife on the kitchen floor and under a chair in the kitchen, and a knife blade under a sofa cushion in the living room.

The report goes on to state that on March 23rd, just after 5 p.m. police got a domestic violence call from the address on W. Van Buren Street. In the complainant, Lorenza Valdez said she got home to find her son under the influence and fighting with his siblings.

Police reports stated Valdez had argued with her son earlier about taking out the trash. Another friend who came to the home later indicated he had seen Valdez's brother outside the trailer and Valdez also known as "Paco" in the home acting aggressive.

Court documents state when police entered the home, Valdez went into the kitchen and retrieved an unknown weapon and approached the officers, at which time at least one officer discharged his firearm an unknown number of times.

Reports state Valdez had a felony arrest warrant for parole violation and previously made statements about wanting to "fight it out with the cops" and that he said he was not going back to prison.

Joe Enea, a Courts and Crimes digital beat reporter for ABC15 said probable cause statements, marriage and divorce records, and in some cases search warrants were available through a quick public records search.  You do have to go in person to look at the records and can print and purchase them if you want.

Court officials said anything sealed by a judge, criminal history, mental health, and medical records were the only things you could not see as they were considered confidential, although even sealed documents do have an expiration date.