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Phoenix police release bodycam footage of fatal shooting of James Garcia on Fourth of July (WARNING: GRAPHIC)

2020-07-22

James “Jay” Garcia refused to get out of the car when cops ordered him to, saying he felt safe in there. Minutes later, he was dead.

Garcia, parked in the driveway of a Phoenix home, told police he was waiting for his cousin. Police were on scene attempting to investigate an alleged stabbing. The nearly 12-minute video with disturbing scenes of the shooting opens at the outset of the exchange.

Bodycam footage of the 28-year-old’s fatal shooting at the hands of police on July 4 shows a tense, expletive-laced confrontation as officers first try to persuade Garcia to step out of the car and then ratchet up as one says he sees a gun.

The Phoenix Police Department released the officers’ footage as a first step toward transparency in the wake of the shooting, which sparked protests in an already brutality-weary public. Longer, unedited clips will be released to the media, too, police said.

Cops initially were directed to the house by a man who said someone had attempted to stab him there. The man in the driveway can be heard on the video telling police he’s waiting for his cousin. Cops spent a little more than 10 minutes trying to persuade him to leave the car, while he gave a couple of false names and birth dates, according to police.

At one point a cop explains to the driver that he must get out of the car because it’s part of an active crime scene.

“Is there a reason you’re not getting out of the car?” he asks. “Well right now we’ve got reports that somebody was stabbed in this house. So we’ve got to figure out where everybody is and whether you were involved in that.”

The man’s reply is inaudible, but he makes no move to emerge from the vehicle.

“If this turns into some kind of shooting, I don’t need you sitting here getting shot while we’re shooting and then blaming us,” the officer says.

“I’m not going to get shot,” the driver replies. “I feel safe in here.”

Not long after that, one of the officers yells, “He’s got a gun!” For another 50 seconds, one of two officers yells at him to take his hand off the gun, warning him he will shoot if he does not comply. Suddenly shots ring out, and the window splinters. Two officers have fired.

A third runs up and takes a gun out of the car so that they can render aid, but “he did not survive the injuries,” the police said in a statement.

Officers Noel Trevino, 29, and Gregory Wilson, 31, were placed on administrative leave after Garcia’s death, reported NBC News. This is routine in officer-involved shootings, police said.

The Maricopa County Medical Examiner has formally ruled Garcia’s death a homicide, NBC News said.

The killing occurred against a backdrop of protests against police brutality in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.