Slain teen’s family wants Chandler officer fired - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Slain teen’s family wants Chandler officer fired

March 25th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Slain teen’s family wants Chandler officer fired

By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

Friends and family members of a 17-year-old Chandler boy killed in January during a traffic stop are asking authorities to take action against the police officer who shot him twice in the back.

Speaking outside a county courthouse in Phoenix on March 20, activists called upon the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to hold Officer Chase Bebak-Miller accountable for the death of Anthony Cano.

The teenager was shot by Bebak-Miller on Jan. 2 while running from the officer through a Chandler park and died a couple weeks later.

The officer said he felt compelled to use lethal force after he noticed Cano was carrying a firearm.

Bebak-Miller “thought he was going to get killed and that (shooting) was the way he could be safe and protect himself,” a police report states.

But Cano’s family insist the teenager wasn’t intending to fire the gun and that body-camera footage of the incident seems to show Cano trying to throw the weapon away after pulling it from around his waist.

“He was throwing the gun so he wouldn’t get shot,” said Eva Cano, the teenager’s aunt. “He stated his name clearly and asked them to call his mom.”

Bebak-Miller initially attempted to detain Cano after spotting him riding a bicycle that didn’t have a reflective light and weaving through traffic.

Cano fled from the officer and Bebak-Miller proceeded to chase him until the deadly confrontation.

Cano’s family believes the officer’s actions on Jan. 2 should result in his termination and possible criminal charges.   

“The shooting, the way it occurred – that second shot particularly – was not warranted. Not one bit,” Eva Cano added.

The family said it has filed complaints with the city about the Police Department’s handling of the case and how it interacted with Cano’s relatives after the shooting.

Friends and family have been staging protests in Chandler over the last few weeks and appeared before City Council to demand accountability from elected leaders.

“I don’t want people to sit here in silence like nothing is wrong,” said Marcus Cano, Anthony’s cousin, during the March 20 press conference.

Marcus said he and Anthony were raised to respect law enforcement and to handle weapons responsibly.

Not every police officer is bad, the cousin added, but the bad apples need to be weeded out in order to prevent another teenager from getting shot.

He also said there was no need to fire a second shot.

“To me, I don’t get how people see that video and aren’t upset with how this officer was still yelling at the kid,” Marcus said.

After shooting Cano, the officer can reportedly be heard calling the teenager’s actions “stupid” as Cano tried explaining himself.   

Police reports show the gun found on the ground near Cano was reported stolen by its owner. It’s not clear how the teenager came in possession of the weapon.

Investigators at the scene noted how the gun “appeared as though the magazine to the handgun was loose from the magazine well.”

Chandler Police have submitted their reports on Cano’s death to prosecutors, who will decide whether to criminally charge Bebak-Miller.

Maricopa County’s prosecutors rarely ever indict police officers for shooting citizens. Out of the 42 officer-involved shootings reviewed by MCAO in 2019, the agency filed charges only once for a case that was later dismissed in court.

The County Attorney has a special committee that reviews the findings of investigators tasked with probing officer-involved shootings.

If the committee believes charges should be filed against the officer, then County Attorney Allister Adel will have to make a final decision on the case.

It’s not clear how long it may take MCAO to reach a charging decision for Bebak-Miller since the agency has still not resolved other cases that were submitted more than a year ago.    

Local activists have already made their opinion clear in how they think MCAO should close Cano’s case.

Kenneth Smith, a representative of the West Valley NAACP, said Cano’s death could have been avoided and believes the officer’s actions warrant criminal prosecution.

“This is wrong,” Smith said. “The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office needs to use their power to put this officer in jail immediately, file charges, indict, and convict.”

Cano’s death should not be forgotten or get lost with all the other young men shot at by police, Smith said, and prosecutors have an opportunity to offer justice for the deceased’s family.

“This needs to be the last Black or Brown body to die in this movement,” he added.