Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Eyewitness: Shooting Victim Did Not Point Gun At MCSO Deputy

MESA, Ariz. -- An eyewitness to a deadly shooting involving a Maricopa County Sheriff's deputy disputes the sheriff's account of how the shooting happened on Crescent Avenue in Mesa on Friday night.

Miguel Hernandez said he watched a deputy shoot Felipe Castellanos, his neighbor, from his front window.

"The sheriff's deputies just came up running up to him and then they told him to turn off the engine. And he just put it in park, like he was going in reverse. He put it in park . . . and then they he shot him three times," said Hernandez.

On Monday, Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Castellanos had threatened deputies with an AK-47 before he was shot two times.

Arpaio said Castellanos died from his gunshot wounds Monday morning.

"When a deputy approached, he was acting strange; swearing at our deputy, pointed a rifle at our deputy, who fired the two shots, one hitting the subject in the head," said Arpaio.

"I never saw that. I was right here and it happened right there. I, I never saw him raise his gun or anything," said Hernandez.

Deputies say they were called to Castellano's Crescent Avenue home for a domestic dispute around 10:30 p.m.

A spokesman said Castellanos fired gun shots, possible into the air and left his home.

They said Castellanos returned to his home a short time later and grabbed an AK-47 and ammunition from his home.

He encountered deputies as he was trying to back out of his driveway.

"I praise my deputy for taking proper professional action," Arpaio said. "When you have a person like this, that has all the ammunition, the gun, what was he going to do if we did not stop him?"

Arpaio said Castellanos is a convicted felon and an illegal immigrant.

Hernandez described Castellanos as a friendly neighbor.

He said Castellanos did not seem prone to violence and does not think he was trying to hurt deputies.

"They should do something else, not kill him," he said.

An MCSO spokesperson refused to identify the deputy involved in the shooting.

CBS 5 has requested records from the incident and will let you know what we find.

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