PHOENIX — Phoenix police have released videos showing officers begging a former NFL player to put down a gun so they wouldn't have to shoot him just prior to opening fire.
Ekom Udofia, 33, was fatally shot by Phoenix officers on November 30. Body-worn camera video showed two officers arriving near Indian School Road and 23rd Avenue just after 2 a.m. After stepping out of the car, they immediately notice that Udofia had a gun.
"Please, please don't make me shoot you," one officer said. He also repeatedly told Udofia to drop the weapon, which was later determined to be a BB gun. Udofia did not appear to say anything as he continued to walk toward the officers and their patrol car.
"Dude, I got to shoot him," the officer said to his partner just before opening fire.
To view the full critical incident briefing from the Phoenix Police Department, click here. *WARNING: Video may not be suitable for all audiences.*
After growing up in Scottsdale, Udofia played football at Stanford University, and he spent a short time in the NFL, mostly with the New Orleans Saints. Friends described him as a 'gentle' giant. He also played professional football in Canada.
After Udofia moved back to the Valley, he was arrested several times. According to court records, mental health issues had contributed to the criminal activity.
After the initial shooting in November, Udofia was on the ground, groaning, and still holding the weapon. Officers tried using less-lethal rounds to get Udofia to drop the gun. When he didn't, they shot him a second time.
Udofia's death had called attention to how people in mental health crisis can end up in dangerous police encounters.
"Our medical community, our community as a whole needs to step up to do a better job providing help to people who are having mental health issues," said Andy Anderson, a retired Phoenix assistant police chief.
Anderson said officers often do not learn until after-the-fact whether an individual had a history of mental health problems.
"It’s too late to get a social worker involved when somebody has a gun in their hand," said Anderson. "But there are other calls, and it’s going to come down to evaluating those calls and some kind of protocol that you put in place."
Phoenix Police continue their internal and criminal investigations into this officer-involved shooting.