Monday, October 31, 2011

Avondale police officer who shot, killed man placed on leave

An Avondale police officer who shot and killed a man Friday has been placed on paid administrative leave pending joint criminal and internal investigations, officials said.

The Glendale Police Department has taken the lead on the criminal investigation into the shooting death of 20-year-old Avondale resident Gregory I. Martinez by Avondale Officer Kevin Sapp, a patrol officer who has been with the force for two years, Avondale police spokesman Reuben Gonzales said. Investigators will determine whether Sapp handled the incident appropriately.

The Avondale Police Department is working with Glendale on the criminal investigation and also concurrently conducting an internal affairs investigation, Gonzales said. Both investigations and placing Sapp on administrative leave are standard procedures for officer-involved shootings.

Avondale hasn't had an officer-involved shooting where somebody was shot for at least six or seven years, he said. There was a shooting about four years ago, but officers did not hit anybody.

Gonzales said they brought Glendale in to head the criminal investigation because "they have a designated shoot team as part of their investigation, so that way we can get an outside view into the shooting as well."
Sapp responded about 4 p.m. Friday to a house on the 11700 block of West Yuma Street, near Maricopa County 85 and Avondale Boulevard, where it was reported Martinez was "being disorderly and causing damage to the residence," Gonzales said. When Sapp arrived, Martinez, who lived in the home with his mother and father, was out front holding two large knives.

Martinez didn't follow Sapp's commands to drop the knives and advanced on the officer while still armed with the knives, Gonzales said. Sapp fired his duty gun, striking Martinez.

"There was a perceived threat by Officer Sapp, and that's why he shot him," Gonzales said.
Martinez was airlifted to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, where he later was pronounced dead. Sapp was not injured.

Avondale officers had responded to the residence several times in the last three years for various calls, including domestic violence and disturbance calls, Gonzales said. It wasn't clear if Martinez was involved in the previous calls.

No other information was available pending the Glendale police investigation and the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office report, Gonzales said.

It was unclear how long the Glendale investigation would take, he said, especially considering officers also are investigating another shooting in Glendale the same day that left a Glendale officer dead.

Officer Bradley Jones, 27, died about 1 a.m. Saturday in the hospital after he was shot about 8:30 p.m. Friday during a confrontation at an apartment complex near 75th and Glendale avenues, police said. Responding officers pursued and shot the suspect, who remained hospitalized Monday.

1 comment:

  1. what the paper didn't report - from an email seeking legal help for this kid's family: "I know the family through a church network that I used to belong to. This young man was born with developmental disabilities and was cooking while the police showed up to their house. He came outside of the house as he was instructed with the cooking knives in hand and although he raised his hands, as instructed by police, his father told him to drop the knives. As he turned around to look at his father and clarify what he heard, he was shot by police officers in front of his immediate family members. The family wasn't allowed to touch him since the police shouted back that they would shoot anyone that would get close to him. He died on the scene." And to think that Occupy PHX passed a hat for dead officers' families while oblivious to this...