PHOENIX — The family of Jacob Harris and their legal team have criticized the Phoenix Police Department for wrongfully shooting and killing the 19-year-old armed robbery suspect.
David Kothe, a former Phoenix Police officer, says the officers followed protocol.
"It's just a sad, sad situation, but in the end, I understand the angst of the father and I understand some thoughts of those in the community that are activists, but the police were only responding to this young man's actions," Kothe said.
Kothe analyzed video obtained by 12 News which shows a brazen armed robbery at a Whataburger in January. The video, taken by police officers, shows masked suspects climb into the drive-thru window. Then, the suspects force employees into a back room at gunpoint.
Harris' father, Roland Harris, along with community activists, are critical of the officers' decision to stay outside.
"Why did police stay in their cars and watch the robbery take place rather than go in and intervene?" asked 12 News Reporter Bianca Buono.
"The most obvious answer to that question is it would have created a much more dynamic and dangerous situation. You would've now had the employees, potentially customers, coming up involved in what could have been a gunfight," Kothe said.
The suspects are then seen leaving in a getaway car. Then, video from police helicopter shows police stopping the suspects with a PIT maneuver. After a flash-bang, 19-year-old Jacob Harris jumps out of the car and runs from police. Officers then being firing.
A police report says Harris pointed his gun at officers and was shot twice in the back. Phoenix police photos show a gun on the ground in the area where Harris went down.
"I would say there's evidence from that video, if in fact what fell out of his hands was a gun, that during the course of his running, whether it was planned on the young man's part or inadvertent, he was pointing a gun," Kothe said.
Kothe said the officer's decision to shoot appears justified."There's three parts of the law that justifies use of deadly force in this situation," Kothe explained.
Harris' family and his legal team disagree and have filed a $6 million notice of claim against the City of Phoenix, claiming Jacob Harris was wrongfully killed and officers lied in their police reports.