PHOENIX — A Pinal County Sheriff’s deputy has been cleared by state
investigators of wrongdoing in the fatal January shooting of a car theft suspect
in Eloy, authorities said Friday.
Manuel Longoria, 40, died Jan. 14 after investigators said he had stolen a car
then led authorities on a 40-minute chase before he was stopped and surrounded
by deputies and police with guns drawn.
He refused to surrender and “assumed a shooting stance with both hands clasped
together as if he was firing a pistol,” the sheriff’s office said in a
statement Friday announcing that the Arizona Attorney General’s Office had
reviewed the case and cleared the deputy of wrongdoing when he shot Longoria
Authorities also said that during the pursuit, Longoria “gestured that he had
a weapon” and repeatedly said that he “wouldn’t be taken alive.”
Video of the incident taken by a witness and provided to several media outlets
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 appears to spin around with his back to the officers,
throwing his hands in the air above his head. He is almost simultaneously
fatally shot twice by the deputy.
Sheriff’s officials have said all along that the video was misleading and
didn’t accurately depict the sequence of events.
The deputy “thought Longoria had a gun as he was directly in front of him,
standing in a shooting stance and it appeared he was about to fire a gun at
him,” Pinal County Sgt. Pat Ramirez said in a statement.
No weapon was found at the scene.
While state investigators have cleared the deputy of wrongdoing, the FBI
continues to conduct a separate review of the case.