A group of protesters gathered in Phoenix on Sunday to demand the city police department release body camera footage from the officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man who was killed while sitting in a parked vehicle on the Fourth of July.
Video of the incident, which spread across social media over the weekend, showed a group of officers surrounding a sedan parked in the driveway of a house. Officers can be seen pointing firearms at the driver's side window as one shouts, "stop f------ moving, I will f------ shoot you." Seconds later, several shots ring out.
The clip prompted outrage within the Phoenix community. Phoenix City Councilman Carlos Garcia was one of many to decry the use of force by officers and to demand an investigation into the shooting.
“It does not shock us that despite all the scrutiny from community Phoenix PD continues to respond violently to calls. But, we must all continue to ask for transparency and accountability,” Garcia wrote in a Facebook post.
The protest group W.E. Rising Project organized a demonstration Sunday night that included a march to the Phoenix Police Department's Maryvale Estrella Mountain Precinct, The Arizona Republic reported. About 50 protesters were reportedly met by officers in riot gear as they neared the building.
Video showed protesters chanting "Black Lives Matter" and “We don’t see no riot here! Why are you in riot gear?” While Phoenix police did not release the name of the victim, protesters repeatedly invoked the name of James Garcia during the demonstration, the Republic noted.
“We are the ones protecting your rights,” Andrea Alvarado, a protester, said to the crowd, the Republic reported. “The officers standing around us want to take away your rights away. They kill innocent civilians while we protest for their lives.”
The Phoenix Police Department said in a statement Sunday that an officer-involved shooting occurred after a 911 caller said that a man who tried to kill him last week had returned with a knife and was threatening to harm him again.
The department said that the caller pointed out the alleged suspect's location after they arrived on the scene. Officers requested additional backup before locating a man sitting in a parked car in the driveway of a house, the department added.
Officers are said to have told the man that they were investigating an aggravated assault.
"As the conversation continued, officers instructed the man to get out of the vehicle. At this point, he refused, instead rolling up his window and arming himself with a handgun," the department said, adding that the man began to later "lift his weapon."
The department said that one officer broke a passenger window to attempt to distract the man after seeing him point his weapon at a fellow officer. As that happened, two other officers fired into the vehicle, the department said.
The man was transported to a local hospital before being pronounced dead. No officers were injured during the incident.
Phoenix Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Mercedes Fortune pushed back against claims that the suspect was unarmed.
“The suspect was not asleep in the vehicle, he armed himself which is what lead to the officer involved shooting,” Fortune said in an email to the Republic.
The incident came as law enforcement agencies around the nation face escalating scrutiny in wake of the May 25 death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. Floyd, 46, died after a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
His death has placed more scrutiny on other police-involved shootings, with demonstrators demanding greater accountability from law enforcement.