PHOENIX — Authorities are investigating a fatal shooting of a suspect who
police say had stolen a car then led them on a chase that ended in his death.
Manuel Longoria, 40, died Jan. 14 after being shot twice by a Pinal County
Sheriff’s deputy in Eloy.
The investigation into the shooting is being handled by the Pinal County
Sheriff’s Office with help from the Eloy Police Department, sheriff’s spokesman
Tim Gaffney said Thursday.
While Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and Eloy police have said the shooting
was justified, the case will eventually be handed over to the Pinal County
Attorney’s Office for a final determination.
Longoria stole a car and then led police on a 45-minute chase before he was
stopped in an Eloy neighborhood and surrounded by deputies and police with guns
drawn, authorities said.
“The guy was yelling out the window that he had a gun and was not going to be
taken alive,” Gaffney said. “When he got out of the vehicle, he refused to
comply” with officers’ commands to surrender.
Video taken by a witness and provided to several media outlets, including
KPHO-TV, shows Longoria standing outside the vehicle surrounded by police
pointing guns at him and yelling for him to surrender. Officers then can be seen
and heard firing non-lethal bean bag rounds at the man, who at one point appears
to reach for something in the vehicle.
Within seconds, Longoria is seen spinning around with his back to the officers
and throwing his hands in the air above his head. He is almost simultaneously
fatally shot twice by a deputy.
No weapon was found at the scene. Gaffney said authorities are awaiting
toxicology results on the man to determine if he had drugs in his system.
Babeu has said it appeared it was “a case of suicide by cop.”
Longoria’s girlfriend, however, disputed the allegations.
“He was scared,” Lynnette Casey told KPHO. “They say suicide by cop. How is
it he wanted to die if his hands were up? Nobody with their hands up wants to
Gaffney said the video is misleading and that the deputy who fired the fatal
shots was justified, given Longoria’s statements that he was armed and wouldn’t
be taken alive and his failure to immediately surrender.
“It was instantaneous how it happened,” Gaffney said, noting the deputy who
fired thought Longoria might have reached for a gun in the car. “He was fearful
for his safety and fearful for others, so he fired two rounds.”
An internal investigation also will be conducted into the car chase after it
was revealed that a sheriff’s lieutenant had radioed deputies to back off when
the situation grew dangerous. Gaffney said that review will occur separately
from the investigation into the shooting and has no bearing on whether it was