Phoenix police officer Brian Lilly has been cleared in the shooting of homeowner Tony Arambula by a police board. The Phoenix Use of Force Board determined Lilly acted properly in responding to a call of a burglary and shooting Arambula six times — even though Arambula, 36, did not threaten Lilly and the family claims Lilly shot him twice while he was laying on the floor.
Arambula had caught suspect, Angel Anastacio Canales, and was holding a gun on him when Lilly burst into his son’s room and began firing. His lawyer says that the officers admitted on a 911 call that they did not warn Arambula or wait long enough to determine who was the felon.
Arambula is suing Lilly and Phoenix Sgt. Sean Coutts.
Lilly insists that he did not know that there was a homeowner in the house. Yet, in one minute, he fired at a man without warning and presumably without Arambula turning toward him. Indeed, even if he was the suspect and had a gun trained on a family member, shooting the suspect could result in a discharge that kills the family member. This is why officers tell suspects to drop the weapon rather than shoot the first guy with a gun in the room.
Obviously, officers must react quickly and this officer was acting to protect himself and the family. However, this civil lawsuit may reveal more details on why Lilly felt he had to open fire without warning and without confirming who was the suspect. We have recently seen officers involved in mistaken shooting given awards in such incidents, here. For other such stories, click here and here and here.
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