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Valley father calls for accountability after new video shows Phoenix officer shooting

Posted at 6:53 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 21:53:29-04

PHOENIX — Warning: the video for this story is graphic and may not be appropriate for all viewers.

A Valley father says had a Phoenix police officer followed policy his son would still be alive.

The new criticism comes after Mike Vespoli saw bus camera video of his son, Adam, being shot and killed after jumping into a police SUV.

On the morning of March 12, a city bus driver called police to help remove two men sleeping in the back of the empty bus, which is against policy.

Multiple sources tell ABC15 that officer Donnell Lindo responded to 75 Avenue and Buckeye Road.

New body and bus camera video shows Lindo boarding the bus and asking the men to get off. He left his patrol vehicle unlocked and running feet away.

"I was shocked that the police officer left the vehicle unattended, unlocked, and apparently running," said Mike Vespoli, Adam's father. " I’ve been going through the police policies and the first thing they say is to lock an unattended vehicle."

A bus security camera captured Adam Vespoli, 39, getting off the bus, walking to the police SUV and getting in the driver's seat.

Seconds later, Officer Lindo runs off the bus, with his gun drawn. He puts one foot on the running board and points his gun at Vespoli.

As Vespoli started to drive off, Officer Lindo fired at least three shots through the open window.

"There's no surviving that at that point blank range," said Vespoli. "He executed my son because he was upset, mad, [and] angry that someone got into his patrol car."

The officer suffered minor knee soreness, according to police officials.

"I would like to see those medical records," said Vespoli, who thinks a union representative offered advice after the shooting.

Officer Lindo also shot and killed an armed suspect less than a year earlier. He has been on the force for three years.

There is ongoing controversy about whether police officers should be permitted to shoot at moving vehicles.

A group called Campaign Zero proposed eight policies in June 2020 to curtail police violence in response to the murder of George Floyd. #8CantWait includes a ban on shooting into moving vehicles, calling it "a dangerous and ineffective tactic."

Police Chief Jeri Williams, in August 2021, said Phoenix follows the recommendations of the national #8CantWait campaign. However, the actual Phoenix police policy, updated in November, doesn't fully ban this practice. Instead, it bans shooting at a moving vehicle "for the sole purpose of disabling it."

Phoenix's policy does tell officers not to deliberately place themselves "in the path of a moving vehicle or one capable of immediate movement" and it cautions against reaching or leaning into a running vehicle with the driver's seat occupied.

According to the report Officer Lindo "felt he was in imminent danger of being run over and killed."

He also indicated that in the seconds it took to run to his car, he thought about Vespoli's potential ability to "wreak havoc on many citizens" with the patrol car's "overhead lights" and "lethal objects."

"Do you think he was an imminent danger of being run over?" asked ABC15.

"Not at all," replied Vespoli. "He was on the side of the vehicle. He's the one who jumped up on the running board before the vehicle is in motion."

ABC15 has reached out to Phoenix police about the current status of Officer Lindo and are waiting to hear back.

ABC15 also asked the Maricopa County Attorney's Office if they plan to prioritize the criminal review of the case and have not heard back. Right now, there is no elected Maricopa County Attorney, and the office is backlogged more than a year when it comes to reviewing officer shootings.

"We want justice for Adam. This shouldn't happen to any parent... this man needs to be taken off the streets and, in my opinion, jailed," said Vespoli.