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Family of man fatally shot by Glendale officers seeks justice

Posted at 9:44 PM, Nov 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-07 01:48:09-04

GLENDALE, AZ — The family of a man fatally shot by Glendale Police near 62nd Avenue and Ocotillo Road held a car wash to raise money for his funeral.

The car wash happened Saturday in the Pep Boys’ parking lot on Southern Avenue and Country Club.

ABC15 spoke with the family of 26-year-old Jose Cortez, who shared some of his life story, the shock that they continue to feel following his death, and why they’re now seeking justice for their loved one.

New witness video showing the exchange between police and Cortez has left them with more questions than answers.

Naomi Cortez, Jose's older sister, is at a loss for words.

“The way they took him is just not right… it’s just not right. That’s my little brother. I can’t... I can’t accept it,” she said.

Jose’s dad, Luis Cortez, held back tears, saying, “It’s a lot of pain. A lot of pain because he’s gone."

On November 3rd, Glendale police officers responded to a person yelling and hitting cars, near 62nd Avenue and McLellan.

“That night he was hurting and that’s what was happening. He was battling his depression,” Naomi told ABC15.

Officials say when officers got there, Jose Cortez got in a car and drove off, sideswiping a patrol car in the process.

Jose’s uncle Marcus says there’s a reason for that, showing the car.

“From what witnesses have said... that they tried boxing him in, and he just scooted out. Hence the scuff, not big damage,” Marcus said.

Then, Cortez got out of the car and ran.

Investigators said in a press release Wednesday, officers caught up to him near 62nd Avenue and Ocotillo road, where Cortez allegedly asked police to shoot him.

Before charging toward one officer, Glendale police say a second officer tried to use a stun gun to stop Cortez, but that didn’t work.

Police say Cortez then moved toward the first officer, reaching for his waist. That’s when the second officer, thinking the suspect was reaching for a gun, opened fire.

No officers were hurt, and officials say no weapon was found.

Naomi tells ABC15 a neighbor showed her and her family a video recording of the incident.

“You could hear when he gets tased and as he’s screaming, eight shots were fired. I can’t imagine him being in pain and it hurts me to hear him in pain,” Naomi told ABC15, through tears.

Marcus says he can't help but think officers could have done things differently.

“Use your nonlethal tactics first. I know there’s beanbags. Little shotguns with bean bags,” said Jose’s uncle.

Naomi says police told her Jose was hit three times.

“He just loved life and loved everybody... and he had too much going for him,” she added.

Cortez family
Cortez family

Now they’re left waiting for answers and planning a funeral for their loved one.

“[There] has to be justice for him,” said Luis.

“We want to know what really happened. We want to see what really happened,” added Naomi.

The Cortez's will be hosting another car wash at Los Tres Amigos, near Mesa Drive and Broadway Road in Mesa, starting at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

The money being raise is to help pay for funeral expenses, in addition to setting up a GoFundMe.

ABC15 reached out to Glendale police again on Saturday for an update on this case, and a response to the family’s claims about the video and Jose’s innocence.

At time of publication, ABC15 had not received a response.