by Jack Burns, The Free Thought Project:
Body cam footage is proving a police officer blatantly lied in his account of a shooting that killed a man who was approached while sleeping in his car.
Surprise, AZ — Body camera footage is giving new insight into the case of a 20-year-old man who was shot and killed by police after they approached him while he was sleeping in the front seat of his car—and its revelations are giving hope to the man’s family, as they pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
When Derek Adame was approached by Police Officer Joseph Gruver on Nov. 26, 2016, in Surprise, Arizona, he was reportedly asleep in his vehicle. Adame had parked his 2016 Nissan Sentra on the side of the road in a residential neighborhood, but when Gruver ran the vehicle’s plates, the car came back as stolen. Someone in the neighborhood called the police to report the suspicious vehicle, but before the sun rose in the morning, Adame would be killed, shot by Gruver.
It was not until this week that the Surprise Police Department released the body camera footage captured by the two responding officers. Officer Shaun McGonigle was Gruver’s backup. Gruver’s body camera footage shows the moments leading up to the shooting and killing in his vehicle.
According to AZCentral, who obtained court documents related to the lawsuit, the suit alleges that “without any warning or legal justification, Defendant Gruver used willful, excessive and unreasonable force when he shot and killed Adame … Defendant Gruver’s negligent handling of his firearm resulted in Adame sustaining fatal gunshot wounds to his right forearm, torso and right shoulder.”
In an analysis of the police reports, AZCentral discovered the police officer’s statements, the police report and the body camera footage do not all add up to provide a complete description of what happened that night.
In the days after the shooting, Surprise police explained the fatal shooting by saying there was a struggle and concern that Adame was planning to drive away and purposely drag the officer. That sentiment is chronicled in the 89-page police report detailing aspects of the incident. However, Gruver’s statements to police do not exactly match what is clear on the body camera footage. Gruver, according to police reports, detailed his thoughts to investigators as he entered the passenger side of the vehicle. He struggled with Adame, who Gruver says hit the accelerator. That caused him to get “sucked into” the vehicle, according to reports.
The vehicle was barely rolling when it appears Gruver opened fire with two fatal shots. After falling out of the rolling vehicle, he radioed to dispatch “shots fired” and indicated that Adame had been hit. He then said something that was patently false: “I think I’ve been hit, too,” he said implying the suspect had shot the officer. Allowing that impression to proliferate was potentially deceptive on the part of the officer who knew he did not see a gun and had not been fired upon.
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