MESA, AZ — The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office says its office won’t file charges against a group of five Mesa police officers involved in a deadly 2020 shooting.
The incident started in the parking lot of Panda Express off of Dobson Road in Mesa on September 25, 2020. Police attempted to make contact with a man, 21-year-old Angel Benitez, found slumped over the wheel of what they believed to be a stolen car when the suspect drove off.
An air unit tracked the vehicle and police located Benitez in a parking lot near University Drive east of Loop 101. When officers again tried to make contact with Benitez, an officer-involved shooting occurred.
Officers say as they shouted commands at Benitez, his hands dropped out of their view toward his waistband and that motion was perceived as a threat, prompting them to open fire. It was later determined that Benitez was not armed. Police say Benitez was taken to the hospital but did not survive.
Witnesses say Benitez was cooperating when he was shot and police should have worked to deescalate the situation.
"The officers are giving Angel commands and they still shoot him. He's complying with officers and there's witnesses that say Angel was complying so in these cases officers need to deescalate the situation," Attorney Benjamin Taylor tells ABC15.
Taylor says a civil lawsuit has been filed in the incident.
MCAO released the following statement Thursday in response to their review of the shooting:
“The Maricopa County Attorney's Office has reviewed the shooting incident that occurred on September 25, 2020, at 923 S. Oakwood Drive, Tempe, Arizona, involving Mesa Police Department Detectives Jacob Alexander #20539, Brett Metcalf #13846, Brandon Monnens #15900, William Roer #20445, and Officer Joseph Figueroa #19482 referenced in Tempe Police Department report number 2020-97019.
Based on the information submitted in DR2020-97019, it is the opinion of the County Attorney that the officers did not commit any act that warrants criminal prosecution.”
Mesa police say they found out about the letter, dated December 28, 2021, on Thursday and did not have a statement available.