Family of suspect shot by Mesa police wants body camera video released

MESA, AZ - The family of an unarmed man shot by Mesa police wants authorities to release the body camera video, saying the officer took excessive force. 

Family of 40-year-old Akbar Aziz met with the chief of the Mesa Police Department Thursday, hoping to get answers in the April 22 shooting.

"We just want justice in all honesty," said Tyler Motley, Aziz's nephew. "That's all we're looking for out of this."

According to Mesa police, Aziz jumped into the road in front of an officer's car near Alma School and Main Street, where Aziz is accused of quickly approaching the officer in an "aggressive" manner with closed fists before charging at the officer.

According to court documents, the officer fired three times after it appeared Aziz had a knife and might stab him and "possibly kill him." Authorities did not find a weapon.

"He had no weaponry," said Aziz's brother, Terry Motley. "The police had five or six different types of weapons upon his belt that he could have used to subdue him, but (the officer) chose the gun."

The family is now questioning if they'll actually get the justice they want. They're concerned since, they believe, a department they're supposed to trust broke about every rule in the book. 

"If you have a Taser, you have a baton, you have your handcuffs, you have training for how to disarm a person with a weapon, you would think they'd have training to disarm somebody that doesn't have a weapon as well," said Tyler Motley. 

The incident, which court documents show lasted nine seconds, was caught on the officer's body-worn camera. Police plan to release the video after the case is reviewed by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

"What am I missing here?" asked Aziz's attorney, Ursula Gordwin. "How is it you have a trained officer who shoots an unarmed man several times?"

Gordwin says she is looking to gather all the facts before deciding how to proceed.

On Tuesday, Mesa police confirmed the officer did have a Taser but didn't deploy it. Citing the ongoing investigation, Mesa police have not offered any additional comment on the shooting, referring back to a statement released last week. You can read that statement, in full, below.

Aziz remains in a hospital in custody. 

So far in 2018, there have been 36 shootings involving law enforcement in the Valley. That includes an incident in Mesa Tuesday in which Homeland Security was involved in a shooting with a suspect. Mesa police responded to the scene but were not involved in the shooting.

MESA POLICE FULL STATEMENT ON AZIZ SHOOTING

“On April 22, 2018, at 3:00 a.m., Mesa Police Officer Theodore Brennan was patrolling the area of Alma School and Main in the City of Mesa. As he was driving westbound on Main Street, he saw a man, later identified as 40-year-old Akbar Qaasim Wicklif Aziz, in the area of the bus stop. Mr. Aziz waved the officer down and then jumped into the roadway directly in front of the officer’s fully marked patrol car.

When the officer stopped, Mr. Aziz assertively walked towards the officer’s car. As the officer got out of his patrol car, Mr. Aziz responded in a hostile manner and refused to move out of the street. Mr. Aziz continued to quickly approach the officer in an aggressive manner with closed fists and the officer began to retreat.

Simultaneously, Mr. Aziz bladed his body, took a fighting stance, and charged quickly at the officer.

Faced with a fast and aggressive attack at close range, the officer drew his weapon while moving backwards and fired three rounds, striking Mr. Aziz. Responding officers immediately rendered first aid. Mr. Aziz was transported to a local hospital. No weapon was found at the scene of the incident.

The entire event unfolded in the middle of the street in a matter of seconds and was captured on body camera. Release of the body camera footage will come after a full review by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) as per protocol.  

A civilian witness in the area observed the incident and described what he thought was an officer being assaulted. 

As is normal in these matters, the MCAO will review the incident.

Officer Brennan has one and a half years on the department. Officer Brennan is currently on administrative reassignment which is protocol.

Mr. Aziz was released from the hospital today.  He has been booked and charged with one count of Aggravated Assault on Law Enforcement, one count of Blocking a Public Thoroughfare, and an active Mesa Warrant for Criminal Trespass.”

Mesa police say Aziz was released from the hospital but has been readmitted for medical treatment.

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