Body-cam shows Phoenix officer shooting, killing man armed with scissors

Some questions are being raised about the language barrier between the man and the officers and why the stun guns didn’t work.
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 4:23 PM MST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2023 at 5:45 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- New body-cam video from Phoenix police shows an officer shooting a man several times in an alley after he reportedly refused to drop a pair of scissors, leading to his death earlier in January.

Police say on Jan. 3, a woman called 911 saying a man was trying to get in her backyard near 35th Avenue and Broadway Road. “There is a burglar that is trying to get into my house,” she said. “They are trying to get in here in the alley.” The woman told the dispatcher the man was trying to jump over a fence, and when she confronted him, he got angry.

Video shows officers arriving at the home and seeing a man outside who told police that the man was still in the alley and hadn’t gone into the family’s backyard. Three officers went into the alley and saw the man sitting on the ground. One officer noticed he was holding scissors. “Put the scissors down. The scissors, you got to put them down,” he said. However, there appears to be a language barrier as the officer tells the man he doesn’t speak Spanish.

Two officers tried to use stun guns on the man but were unsuccessful. The man then reportedly lunged at officers and one officer shot him at least five times.

Another officer walks toward the man, telling him to put the scissors down in Spanish. The man abruptly stands up, and all three officers yell at him in English and Spanish to drop the scissors. “Scissors down! If you step forward, I will shoot you!” one officer yells. One officer then uses a stun gun on the man, who stumbles backward but doesn’t drop the scissors.

The man tries taking off the wires from the stun gun when a second officer uses a stun gun. “One step, you will get shot!” another officer yells. Two officers continued using stun guns on the man but were unsuccessful. He then appears to lunge toward officers, and shots ring out as one officer shoots the man. At least five shots are heard as he falls to the ground, and the officer shoots him once more as he’s lying down.

“Drop the scissors! Drop the scissors!” one officer yells at the man who’s laying down. The man was taken to the hospital where he later died. Neighbors reportedly said the man was homeless and lived in the alley.

However, some questions are being raised about the language barrier between the man and the officers and why the stun guns didn’t work. The department says they aren’t always able to send Spanish-speaking officers to predominately Spanish-speaking neighborhoods. “It’s important to have a Spanish speaker there. In this case, we did. The first responding officers did speak Spanish and then Spanish was attempted with the individual in the alley also. It’s vital,” said Sgt. Rob Sherer with Phoenix police.

Video shows three officers yelling at the man in English and Spanish to drop the scissors, but he reportedly lunged at them.

After attempts to speak with the suspect didn’t work, officers used stun guns. “In a scenario like this, where a suspect has a bladed instrument, this is where that taser is perfect for this,” said Sherer. But, ultimately, they didn’t work.

Neighbors say it all happened right behind their homes, including Raymond Rodriguez. “I had never seen the guy. I went to throw some trash out one time, and I’d just see him from his backside. I don’t know what he looks like,” he said. However, Rodriguez and other homeowners said they’d seen the man around the area for years. “He was in the back, and we were afraid that maybe he was trying to break into my son’s big truck, so we put a big camera in the back to make sure he never went in, but he never tried,” said Blanca Duran, another neighbor.

Police say the investigation is ongoing, and the man’s name hasn’t been released.