No charges filed for Chandler officer who shot, killed 17-year-old in 2021
Maricopa County Attorney announced decision at noon
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell announced Thursday that the Chandler officer who shot and killed a 17-year-old boy in 2021 will not be charged.
The shooting happened on the night of Jan. 2, 2021, after Officer Bebak-Miller attempted to stop a teenager, later identified as 17-year-old Anthony Cano, for riding a bicycle erratically on the road. Police say Cano pedaled faster after seeing the officer’s flashing lights. He eventually dumped his bicycle and ran towards Meadows Park. Officer Bebak-Miller pursued Cano. According to police, Cano pulled a gun from his waistband and motioned toward the officer. That’s when the officer fired two shots at the teen. Cano was hit twice in the back and died a short time later at an area hospital.
“Parents lost their son. Family lost a family member. And a young man lost his life,” Mitchell said. “But, it is my job to decide whether criminal charges can be pursued.” She said that charges are based on three factors, each determined in the moment by police officers acting on their best judgment. Those three factors are: the suspect poses an immediate threat to officers, is actively resisting arrest or trying to get away before being caught, and the severity of the incident.
Mitchell said that on January 2, two of those three reasonable thresholds were met. She said that while reviewing the officer’s statements and the body-worn footage, she saw that Officer Bebak-Miller did not realize that Anthony had tossed the gun aside before he fired the second shot which killed Cano. Both shots were fired in a matter of just two seconds. Furthermore, Mitchell said that the officer’s fear was evident in his re-positioning of himself to the left--further away from Anthony’s right hand which had been originally holding the gun. “Given everything that was happening, it’s not surprising or unreasonable that officer Bebak-Miller did not realize that the gun was no longer in Anthony Cano’s hand,” Mitchell said.
“In Graham v. Connor, the United States Supreme Court instructs us that the reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged by a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight,” she said. “After an analysis of all these factors, I have determined that the actions of Officer Chase Bebak-Miller did not violate criminal statutes and this office will not be filing criminal charges in this matter.”
Mitchell spoke this morning to Cano’s mother to inform her of the decision. “There’s nothing I can say that would assuage her grief from losing a son,” she said. “This doesn’t make it any easier for them to hear this. This is a hard call for her to take. Frankly, it was a hard call for me to make.”
Shortly after her announcement, Cano’s family talked about the county attorney’s decision. They do not believe justice was served, saying not filing charges against Officer Bebak-Miller is a slap in the face. “These officers have a license to kill,” said Cano’s grandmother Sylvia Morales. “It’s OK to do this and still walk the streets with other children?”
The Cano family expressed their frustration with the case. “I would have liked to have seen him charged and gone to trial,” said Morales. “We would have all had to relive it, but it would be more satisfying to me and us right now.”
Family members claim the body cam video alone should be enough to file charges against the officer. They said Cano was on the ground, not moving, when he was shot again. Family members say if the officer didn’t fire the second shot, Cano would still be alive today. “That second shot was absolutely not justified, totally unnecessary,” said Eva Cano. “The first shot paralyzed him. There’s no way. He wasn’t even moving. He didn’t even put his hands behind his back when he was instructed to because he was already paralyzed.”
Cano’s parents sued and the City of Chandler later settled those lawsuits for more than $1 million. As part of that agreement last summer, the City did not admit any fault.
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