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Body cam footage released in shooting of unarmed man by Mesa officers

(Screenshot/Tempe Police)

PHOENIX — Tempe police released body camera footage Thursday from an incident last week that resulted in Mesa officers fatally shooting an unarmed man.

The footage doesn’t show the movement of 21-year-old Angel Benitez, who police said disobeyed orders to comply before he was shot dead by Mesa officers in a covered parking space near University Drive and Evergreen Road in Tempe.

Police said the vehicle was facing officers as they commanded Benitez to put his hands up. Police said he complied at first but dropped his hands out of view, which officers perceived as a threat.

Benitez’s family, who called for the release of body cam footage, has disputed police version of the events.

The video shows several officers firing at Benitez.

“Angel Benitez was murdered by multiple lethal gun shots at close range by Mesa police,” Benjamin Taylor, an attorney for Benitez’s family, said in a statement.

“Angel’s parents are devastated by the new body camera footage that was recently released of their unarmed son’s murder.”

Police said officers pursued Benitez, who was spotted in Mesa in a car that had been reported stolen, and tracked him down after he’d backed into the covered parking space in Tempe.

Benitez was treated and taken to a hospital, where he died about an hour after being shot, police said.

The Tempe Police Department is coordinating with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office on the criminal investigation.

The Mesa Police Department is conducting an internal investigation and the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave, Mesa Police Chief Ken Cost said in a statement.

Taylor called for an independent investigation.

“His grieving mother is preparing to bury her first born who’s face is unrecognizable due to gun shot wounds,” Taylor said. “We are seeking justice for Angel’s family.”

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