CHANDLER, AZ — The Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced Thursday that the officer who shot and killed 17-year-old Anthony Cano in 2021 will not be charged in the case.
Interim County Attorney Rachel Mitchell announced her decision, saying she did not think there was a reasonable likelihood of conviction.
The 17-year-old was shot twice in the back by Officer Chase Babek-Miller while running from the officer on the night of January 2, 2021, at Gazelle Meadows Park near Nevada Street and Erie Street.
Cano was hospitalized and died three weeks later from the wounds he sustained that night.
The chase began when Cano failed to stop after the "officer observed Cano riding a bicycle with no front headlight in the street."
The 17-year-old had a gun as he ran away, but body camera video shows that Cano never turned toward the police officer chasing him. In fact, when he was shot the first time in the back, Cano was tossing the gun. When the second shot was fired, the teen was face down and the weapon was more than ten yards away.
"The first one paralyzed him. The second one killed him. I just don't think it was necessary," said Eva Cano.
Officer Bebak-Miller has been in a shooting at the same park just eight months earlier.
The City of Chandler has paid the parentsof Anthony Cano $1,125,000 in connection to the teen's shooting death.
Cano's family wants to make sure this doesn't happen to another child again. They are calling on MCSO to hold officers accountable.
"He was just a kid... he was just a kid," said Marcus and Eva Cano.
Anthony Cano's cousin Marcus, and his aunt Eva can't help but feel disappointed with the decision.
"It's already a wound. It's just cutting deeper," said Marcus. "He didn't get a chance to be somebody."
"He didn't get a chance to go home," added Eva.
County Attorney Mitchell said, by law, they must look at the situation in real-time and not make decisions based on slowed-down videos or what could have been done.
Mitchell said the review team specifically referred to the 1989 Supreme Court decision in Graham v. Conor when making this decision. The Supreme Court decision provides guidance on whether police use of lethal force is reasonable based on the following:
- Whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officer or others.
- Whether the suspect is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.
- The severity of the crime at issue.
"On the night of January 2, two of these three thresholds were met," said Mitchell.
She says this decision comes after an extensive review of officer body-worn camera footage, review of the medical examiner’s report, examination of photos, and statements from the officer.
“That second shot is hard to watch, but based on his explanation that he thought that he was still in imminent danger, that is the crux of this decision,” said Mitchell.
While the County chose not to charge officer Bebak-Miller, Greg Kuykendall, Cano’s mother’s attorney, would have.
“If the officer were treated like the rest of us it would be a clear decision for the County Attorney to charge him with homicide. Police killings have to stop and I hope that we can elect somebody who will clean up the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office,” said Kuykendall.
“It’s so disheartening to know that that’s where we’re at,” added Eva. “This is what our system is and it’s not going to change, unless some drastic measure happens, or some training is changed.”
"I'm scared for other kids and to me, there's a killer on the loose," said Marcus.
Officer Bebak-Miller’s dad was on a ride-along with him the night he shot Cano, and Officer Bebak-Miller failed to fill out the required ”Citizen Observer Waiver of Liability” paperwork.
While the county will not be filing charges, an internal investigation is ongoing with the Chandler Police Department for this violation.
County Attorney Mitchell says she’s aware she inherited a backlog of officer-involved shooting reviews, adding it’s a priority for her to clear it.