Tempe police release video of fatal shooting of Walmart shoplifting suspect
May 19, 2023, 10:55 AM
(Tempe Police/YouTube Screenshot)
PHOENIX — Newly released body camera footage shows the moments leading up to when a Walmart shoplifting suspect wielding a box cutter was fatally shot by a Tempe police officer.
The Tempe Police Department released footage Thursday from when the officer responded to the Walmart at Priest Drive and Elliot Road around 7:30 p.m. May 9.
The initial call for service said the man appeared to be in his mid-20s and that he fled with stolen merchandise, including a Vizio sound bar.
The responding officer found a man matching the description of the suspect along the pedestrian-canal pathway north of the store, but the suspect, identified as 28-year-old Mathew Almanzar, fled when an attempt to stop him was made.
The officer caught up and took Almanzar to the ground. A struggle ensued that lasted about a minute. Police said Almanzar opened a blade, prompting the officer to stand up, back away and pull out his gun.
From a distance, the officer made repeated demands to get down on the ground, drop the weapon and to not move, but Almanzar didn’t comply and instead started crawling toward the officer.
The officer then fired one time, hitting Almanzar, who received medical care at the scene and died after being taken to a hospital.
The distance between Almanzar and the officer when the shooting happened was about 12 feet, Sgt. Hector Encinas said in the critical incident briefing video.
Police said the box cutter was located near Almanzar’s body. The reported stolen items were also found at the scene.
The officer involved in the shooting has been with the department for 20 years and was placed on administrative leave.
The incident is under review by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.