AFRICANGLOBE – A bystander’s video shows police in Arizona fatally shooting a suspected car thief who had his hands up and back turned, contradicting earlier claims that the man may have been reaching in a car for a gun.
Manuel Longoria, of Mesa, led police on a 40-minute chase in Eloy rammed a patrol car before cops managed to cripple the stolen Toyota Corolla with a tire-popping device.
Longoria, 40, got out of the car but allegedly refused to surrender, telling cops he had a gun and wouldn’t be “taken alive,” police and witnesses said.
Cops fired several bean bags and Taser rounds at the tattooed tow truck driver before one deputy fired two shots, killing him.
At the time, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office released a statement saying Longoria “refused to obey the commands and suddenly reached back into the vehicle.”
“A deputy felt the suspect was reaching for the gun he reportedly had, so he then fired two rounds,” the sheriff’s office said.
The bystander’s video appeared to tell a different story.
In it, Longoria, stands with his hands behind his back as several cops shout orders at him.
He appears to move toward an open passenger-side door before cops open fire with the bean bag and Taser rounds.
After absorbing several shots, he suddenly turns his back thrusts his hands into the air. Seconds later, the two fatal shots are heard.
KPHO-TV’s video froze before Longoria was struck by gunfire.
The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office said it investigated the shooting and found the officer’s use of lethal force justified.
The officer who pulled the trigger was placed back on duty a week later, the station reported.
He was described in earlier accounts as a five-year veteran, but his name was not released.
Sheriff Paul Babeu said he’d seen the video several times and he felt he would have done the same thing if he was in the deputy’s position.
“This suspect sadly and regrettably when given every opportunity to surrender and to comply and obey our commands, decided not to,” he told the station.
The character assassination of Longoria in order to protect the trigger happy cops has already begun, with news outlets such as the Eloy Enterprise reporting that he had a long rap sheet dating back to 2001, including busts for assault and assault with a deadly weapon.
Eloy is in central Arizona, about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson.
By: Philip Caulfield