GLENDALE, Ariz. - Glendale Police released new details and body camera video of an officer-involved shooting that left a 17-year-old boy dead. It happened last month during an illegal party at a warehouse near Northern and Grand Avenues. Officers responded to reports of a shooting and arrived at the scene to find some 200 people running away.
Witnesses and friends of 17-year-old Levy Santibanez claimed he was not holding a gun when he was shot, but police say the officer who opened fire saw him shooting a gun moments earlier. The officer's body-worn camera recorded the deadly shooting and we want to warn you that the video is graphic.
Police say Glendale Officer Dylan Ansell witnessed Levy Santibanez fire shots in the middle of a frenzy.
"His arm was extended, facing toward the crowd, the gun was in his hands," said Lt. Jay O'Neill.
Seconds after he gets out of his car, Officer Ansell aims his rifle toward Santibanez.
"He turned backward toward Officer Ansell twice with his hands not visible," said O'Neill.
Santibanez was shot three times by Officer Ansell. Once in the side, and twice in the back.
Witnesses who recorded cell phone video criticized police, saying there was no gun in his hand when Santibanez was shot.
"We don't know exactly where his gun was when he was shot. Body-worn video and surveillance don't show where the gun was when he was shot," said O'Neill.
Officers found a loaded gun in Santibanez's waistband and a loaded magazine. Forensic evidence found at the scene shows Santibanez fired three rounds from his gun, although no one was hit.
Police say the preliminary evidence shows this shooting was justified.
"This was an active shooter situation. Officer Ansell did not know if Santibanez had struck anybody, Santibanez is moving toward people, he's still armed and again he's ignoring all commands from officers, so Officer Ansell did what he was trained to do. He stopped the threat," explained O'Neill.
Santibanez was not supposed to possess a gun. Police say it was legally purchased and was not reported stolen. They're still looking into how the 17-year-old ended up with the gun.
The Glendale Fraternal Order of Police President Julie Pendergast released a statement regarding the findings of the preliminary investigation:
“We hope the public and members of the media will wait for all the facts to come out before rendering final judgment regarding the actions of Officer Dylan Ansell. With that said, this preliminary review of Officer Ansell’s actions show him following City of Glendale policy exactly as we are trained to do.
“Arriving at a 911 emergency call for multiple shots fired, Officer Ansell observes muzzle flashes, hears gunshots and sees a suspect aiming his gun into a crowd. Responding to what he reasonably believed was an active shooter, Officer Ansell followed policy by arming himself and swiftly moving to neutralize this urgent threat. Officer Ansell commanded the suspect multiple times to raise his hands and get on the ground. Video from the scene shows the suspect disregarding these commands and instead running away from Officer Ansell with his hands near his waist where he had concealed his Glock .40 caliber handgun after firing it.
“Ultimately, surveillance video from a nearby business shows the armed suspect turn toward Officer Ansell. As the briefing narration explains, ‘Officer Ansell feared for the lives of those still fleeing the area and for his own life as the armed suspect turned towards him.’
“Again, while this investigation remains ongoing, we believe this preliminary briefing makes a compelling case that Officer Ansell was justified in his decision to use lethal force to stop an active shooter.”