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Family of Levy Madueno-Santibañez sues Glendale, police department for son's death

Posted at 8:08 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 07:05:36-04

GLENDALE, AZ — It has been six months since a Glendale police officer shot and killed an armed teen at an illegal warehouse party, and now the teen’s grandparents have filed a notice of claim against the City of Glendale and its police department.

“Era mi vida" / "He was my life”

The family of Levy Isaac Madueno-Santibañez says the autopsy showed the teen died of three gunshot wounds to the back. According to the family lawyer, Levy only intended to run away from police like every other kid running that night.

“The fact that Levy was running away from a police officer doesn’t justify capital punishment,” says Charles Slack-Mendez, the attorney representing the family.

The family has filed a $10 million notice of claim against the City of Glendale and the Glendale Police Department, which is a precursor to a lawsuit. If not settled, the family intends to sue in federal court.

“Era mi vida ('He was my life'),” says Socorro Santibañez, Levy’s grandmother.

Santibañez says she recalls waiting all night for Levy, staying up until early in the morning when she received the heartbreaking news.

“No sé, no sé, en ese momento estaba en el lugar y momento equivocado ('I don't know, I don't know, in that moment he was in the wrong place and time'),” she says.

Santibañez says she still can’t believe her grandson, who aspired to become a police officer, would die by the hands of one.

Glendale police identified Dylan Ansell as the officer who fired shots at Levy.

“Quiero que se haga justicia ('I demand justice'),” says Santibañez.

Levy was among hundreds of people at an illegal party in an industrial area in Glendale where multiple 911 calls reported gunshots being fired.

Glendale police released body camera and dash camera video from the shooting. The department said Ansell responded to what he reasonably believed was an active shooter.

Up to today, Glendale police have yet to release any images showing Levy firing shots into the crowd, but video does show him running away.

Police say Ansell feared for the lives of others and his own as Levy turned toward him with his hands near his waist.

“Yes, he looks back but he doesn’t turn his body, only his head turning back,” says Slack-Mendez. He claims the officer's actions do not reflect the current Glendale police department’s use of deadly physical force policies: “Only to be used to overcome an attack.”

The ABC15 Investigators reached out to the Glendale police department and was provided a copy of those policies.

The policy says: “for the use of the weapon and/or force in situations where the employee reasonably believes would produce serious physical injury or death to the employee or another person, the employee may resort to any method to overcome the attack.”

“How does the police conclude that Levy wasn’t acting in self defense when he used his weapon? Whether he had a gun or not, he was not a threat to anybody as he was running away, his gun was in his waistband, he was not holding that gun,” says Slack-Mendez.

In November's briefing, Glendale police said Officer Ansell was justified in his decision to use lethal force to stop an active shooter, but Levy’s grandmother says she didn’t raise a criminal.

“Levy was just a teenager and teenagers think they know everything. That’s not a crime,” Santibañez said in Spanish.

Santibañez hopes suing the Glendale police department can clear Levy’s name and provide her with some answers

“¿Por qué le disparó por la espalda? ¿Por qué no le dió otra oportunidad? ('Why did he shoot him in the back? Why not give him another chance?'),” said Santibañez.

Many questions remain in this case, Glendale police say there is no clear timeframe for the release of their report of the investigation yet as it’s still under review by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.