CHANDLER, AZ — The family of a Chandler teen shot and killed by police is calling for more transparency and the release of the full police body-camera video.
Anthony Cano was shot twice in the back while running from an officer on January 2. The shooting happened on a Saturday night at Gazelle Meadows Park, near Nevada and Erie Street.
The chase occurred after 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, but never turned towards the police officer chasing him. The gun was not clearly visible when Cano was shot a second time while lying face down.
The teen was rushed to the hospital but died from his injuries three weeks later.
The Chandler Police Department was quick to release a photo of the teen holding the gun, and the gun itself.
The department then released a pre-produced "Critical Incident" video featuring edited body camera video of the foot pursuit and shooting.
"I don’t think they are being transparent," said Renee Clum, Cano's mother. "They were secretive from the very beginning."
It is unclear how long it took for the teen to be transported to the hospital after being shot, since the full body camera has not been shared with the public. A short clip in the "critical incident" video shows, at the time aid is being rendered by officers, Cano is handcuffed.
Meanwhile, Chandler police tells ABC15 they are following their protocol.
In a statement a spokesperson said in part:
"The Chandler Police Department has always been a transparent police agency and will continue to be. Our policy with officer-involved shooting videos is to inform the public but be mindful of the ongoing criminal and internal investigations. It is our policy not to release these videos in their entirety until the completion of these investigations. We have followed the same procedure for all past officer-involved shootings here at the Chandler Police Department."
Clum and other family members believe that policy needs to change. They also want to see officers trained differently, in light of how the shooting was handled.
"I want the [Chandler] police officers to have better training," said Clum. "Whether that’s tactical training, or de-escalation. They need training on how to talk to these kids."
"I don’t understand why those two shots to kill were taken. That was [the officer's] first reaction," said Eva Cano, Anthony's aunt.
The second shot is what will be scrutinized the most. In the video, Cano can be seen picking up the extended magazine pistol that he appears to drop.
"That’s why he ran. He knew he shouldn’t have had the gun," said Clum. "But the officer didn't know he had the gun until he got up on him. He shouldn't have been chased over a bike light in the first place."
Retired law enforcement and experts differ over the use-of-force.
Some believe the second shot is an example of an officer taking extra precaution to protect his safety. Some though believe the officer should have waited and assessed the situation more before firing into the teen's back a second time.
"It looks like when the officer fires that second shot, the citizen is laying on his stomach, and the shot is in the back," said Dr. Michael White, a Criminology professor with ASU. "So, I think that shot will be the focus of the internal investigation as well as the county attorney's investigation."
"Once that individual drops the weapon and goes back for the gun you know what’s going to happen at that point. The officer doesn’t have to wait for that individual to fire the gun at him. Why are they going back for that weapon?" said Andy Anderson, who retired with Phoenix police as an assistant chief. "Officers are also trained, if they are in a shooting, to shoot until the threat is stopped."
Lon Bartel, a use-of-force training expert, agrees that the officer was likely justified in firing, but says the video does not tell the full story.
"The video doesn’t give me all the information I need. I don’t know where the gun still is in relation to the subject. I don't know what the officer is perceiving," said Bartel. "There’s a lot of information that is still missing."
Cano's family and some experts, wonder why the officer even chose to pursue Cano so aggressively for a minor bike infraction.
"Many departments have very strict regulations about both foot and auto pursuits, and there has to be a balance there between the risk that is posed by the pursuit and the risk that is posed by the suspect at the time," said Dr. White, who worked as a deputy for a couple of years before moving into academia. "I don’t know what risk this individual posed that warranted a car chase then the foot chase."
"The officer could’ve followed him in the car, and waited until back up," said Clum.
"Unfortunately, the 'what if‘s' aren’t what occurred," said Bartel, a former Peoria police officer. "It’s easy to look at an officer's actions through the luxury of 20-20 hindsight."
The family is currently pursuing a civil lawsuit. They are hoping the lawsuit leads to some admission of wrongdoing and accountability.
Cano's mother said she does not expect the Maricopa County Attorney to charge the officer criminally, since Phoenix police officers were cleared in the shooting death of Ryan Whitaker.
Whitake, a father, and legal gun owner, was clearly surrendering in his doorway, seconds after answering it, when he was shot in the back multiple times. His relatives received a $3 million settlement from the City of Phoenix.
Chandler police say the officer involved in the shooting had five years with the department and is on paid, administrative leave while the investigation into the shooting are ongoing.
Read the department's full statement is below:
"The Chandler Police Department has always been a transparent police agency and will continue to be. We decided to release a critical incident video on January 15, 2021, for this incident so we could inform our community members. The critical incident video contained all footage from the point of when our officer activated his camera in his patrol car until just after the shooting. We did not release all videos of officers rendering aid, due to the graphic nature of the scene. Our policy with officer-involved shooting videos is to inform the public but be mindful of the ongoing criminal and internal investigations. It is our policy not to release these videos in their entirety until the completion of these investigations. We have followed the same procedure for all past officer-involved shootings here at the Chandler Police Department.
We recently provided the Maricopa County Attorney's Office with our investigation into this incident, which is standard practice in all officer-involved shootings. The internal investigation is still open."