No Charges Against Arizona Officer In 17-Year-Old’s Death

PHOENIX (AP) — Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against an Arizona police officer in the death of a 17-year-old boy who was shot in the back twice during a foot chase in which authorities say the teen appeared to turn toward the officer with a gun his hand.

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said on Thursday that she concluded that Chandler police Officer Chase Bebak-Miller didn’t commit a crime in the shooting that led to the January 2021 death of Anthony Cano.

Two minutes after he was shot, Cano told the officer that he was trying to throw away the gun.

The prosecutor said the officer feared during the chase that the teen had a gun because Cano’s right hand remained on his waistband and that Cano dropped a handgun to brace himself when he tripped. Mitchell said Cano quickly picked up the gun and appeared to turn toward the officer with the gun in his right hand, leading the officer to fire the first of two shots at the teen.

The officer then shot Cano, who was on the ground at the time, a second time. When he fired the second shot, Mitchell said, the officer still believed he was in danger because he didn’t realize Cano’s gun had been tossed aside.

“I believe we do not have a reasonable likelihood of conviction in that second shot. And I agree it’s hard to watch,” Mitchell told reporters. The encounter was captured by Bebak-Miller's bodycam.

Greg Kuykendall, an attorney representing Cano’s family, said in a statement that the 17-year-old suffered an agonizing death and called Mitchell’s decision not to charge the officer “legally and morally indefensible.”

Kuykendall said that “a criminal prosecution could serve as a wake up call to future perpetrators of inexcusable violence against children like Anthony, to police departments who encourage a culture of violence, to officers who face no repercussions whatsoever for their indefensible aggression.”

The Chandler Police Department declined to comment on Mitchell’s decision.

Police have said Bebak-Miller saw Cano riding his bike at night and swerve into another lane, leading the officer to turn on his siren and lights.

The boy abandoned the bike and ran into a park. The officer shouted at Cano to stop moments just moments before the shooting unfolded.

As officers to tried to help the handcuffed teen with his injuries, Cano said he was trying to throw away the gun.

“Well, I thought you were pulling it on me, man,” Bebak-Miller said.

“No, no,” Cano said.

Bebak-Miller profanely told Cano that what he did was stupid.

Cano died at a hospital three weeks later.

The city of Chandler paid more than $1 million to settle legal claims filed by Cano’s parents.