Report on Fatal Shooting By Ariz. Police Has Conflicting Views
By Senta Scarborough, The Arizona Republic
MESA, Az. - A police report released Monday gives conflicting accounts from witnesses in a fatal police shooting last month during a beer run and said the 21-year-old passenger who died was shot in the head and forearm.
Mesa police released 153 pages of its initial investigation into the Nov. 8 shooting that left Oscar Bobby Grey, 18, injured and Kevin Olivas, 21, dead after Officer Jerald Ray fired two rounds into a green Dodge Stratus.
Patrick James, 37, and his 3-year old son were in the back seat of the car and not injured during the shooting in a cul-de-sac on Brown Road near Mesa Drive. Police said they followed them to the cul-de-sac after seeing two of the men flee a Bashas' grocery story after making a beer run.
Mesa police Detective Tim Gaffney said the investigation is ongoing. The medical examiner's report has not been completed.
The initial police report showed Olivas, the front-seat passenger, was shot in the head and the left forearm, according to firefighters at the scene. Ray, who has been reassigned to the Center Against Family Violence pending the outcome of the investigation, told police he fired twice as he tried to shoot the driver of the green Dodge Stratus as the vehicle "lunged forward" at Officer John Dankanich. He said he feared for the officer's life.
Police said they are awaiting ballistics tests and results from medical examiner's office and can't confirm if the same bullet that struck Olivas' head also struck his arm.
One woman told police the passenger of the vehicle had his hands out the door as if he were going to surrender. After the first shot the passenger pulled his hands back into the vehicle and she heard the second gunshot, according to the report.
In the report, records show Dankanich told police he parked his patrol car to the driver's side of the other patrol car and saw the suspect vehicle backing up. He got out of the patrol car and approached the front left side of the suspect vehicle, which came toward him. He then moved "quickly" to his right.
"It looked like Officer Dankanich might be run over," said Officer Brandon Monnens, the third officer on the scene.
Numerous witnesses reported hearing tires squealing, officers giving commands to "freeze" or "get out of the car" before hearing two gunshots. But most didn't see the shooting and didn't see whether the suspects' car moved. Two witnesses said the tires squealing sounded like the car was accelerating rather than braking.
However some witnesses reported the suspect car was stopped when the shooting occurred. "They jumped out of their cars and drew their guns on a vehicle that was coasting. I saw them (the people in the car) open there doors and stop. At that point I heard two shots fired," one witness wrote in his statement.
Grey told police he was having trouble with the gear shift and didn't try to strike the officer.