Family of man shot and killed by Phoenix police demand investigation
Phoenix, Arizona (KPHO) — The family of Francisco Valdez, the 24-year-old shot and killed by Phoenix police, along with civil rights leader Rev. Jarrett Maupin, held a press conference on Monday, April 3 to demand an independent investigation into Valdez’s death and actions taken by police.
The press conference was held at the scene where the man was killed in his mother’s home near 67th Avenue and Van Buren Street.
Valdez was shot by police after his mother, Lorenza Valdez, called 911 on March 23 to report that her son was having a negative mental health episode.
Mrs. Valdez claims that this was not a domestic violence call.
“I told them my son was having a mental health crisis…my son never hit me,” Mrs. Valdez said.
Phoenix police say when the officers arrived to the home, the suspect’s mother told them her son was inside acting erratically and she wanted him removed.
Per Phoenix police, when the officers went inside and contacted Valdez, he suddenly ran to the kitchen, armed himself with a knife and charged toward one of the officers.
The officer attempted to retreat and fell backwards over a couch. Police say that Valdez again approached the officer on the ground at which time the second officer fired his handgun at Valdez.
Valdez was taken to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
According to a press release from the family, photos have been released of Valdez that show he was shot in the back multiple times.
Maupin and the family say that this is not the first time that Phoenix police have used deadly force on someone with a mental health emergency, citing the shooting death of a mentally-ill woman killed in her doorway during a mental-health related call.
The woman, Michelle Cusseaux, was shot to death and a subsequent investigation revealed that the officer who killed her violated several Phoenix Police Department policies and procedures.
The City of Phoenix paid the family of Cusseaux more than $700,000 to avoid a lawsuit and pledged to make reforms to how police handle situations involving people who have mental health issues.
The group wants an independent investigation into the case and says that it is unfair to expect the Phoenix police to investigate themselves.
“Every time something like this happens, Phoenix police leaders try to get away with looking into their officers’ own bad behavior. Every time someone dies in a controversial way and evidence points to a failure on the part of the police, the department tries to get away with investigating themselves,” Maupin said.