A 38-year-old man who was shot by Mesa police Thursday had threatened to kill them, but was not armed when he was shot.
Police originally said Thursday that Phillip A. Trimble was shot by three officers when he dropped a cellphone and pointed a gun at them.
But after further investigation, homicide detectives discovered Trimble had only simulated a weapon, acting as if he was grabbing a handgun tucked in his waistband before officers opened fire.
"It appears that he just simulated the weapon with his hand," said Detective Steve Berry, a police spokesman.
"He made the statement, 'I've got a .357 magnum, I'm going to shoot you guys," Berry said. "That why we had such a heightened response, because he made threats at officers."
Berry said officers discovered Trimble was not armed when the Maricopa County Medical Examiners Office arrived on the scene and moved the body.
The shooting occurred at 2:36 p.m. Thursday after police had convinced Trimble to step outside his home in the 9000 block of East Glade Avenue, near Southern Avenue and Ellworth Road.
Berry said Trimble had appeared unstable during a series of phone calls he made to police, starting at 1:13 p.m. He initially reported a robbery.
Berry said police found evidence that Trimble had been drinking prior to the shooting.
Officers wanted to help Trimble and only shot him when they perceived a threat to their own lives, he said.
"The ultimate goal is to help, not to hurt," Berry said. Police will review the case to see if there were other tactics that could have been used.
He said officers were too far away from Trimble to have used a Taser to subdue him.
Court records show Trimble had no prior history of violent acts. He had been sentenced a year ago in Maricopa County Superior Court to four months in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but the sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation for two years.