Tempe police release footage of shooting that killed Walmart shoplifter

Tempe police have released edited bodycam footage of an incident earlier this month in which an officer shot and killed a Walmart shoplifter.

Officers originally responded to the Walmart near West Elliot and South Priest roads at around 7:30 p.m. on May 9, for reports of shoplifting. Police said they attempted to locate a man after employees tried to stop him from stealing a soundbar.

Audio from the 911 call released by Tempe police shows a Walmart loss prevention employee making the call to dispatchers saying that the suspect had fled into a nearby Dollar Tree. Loss prevention said they tried to stop the suspect after he stole a Vizio soundbar.

Police said in the video that an officer observed the suspect on the canal footpath northbound toward West Grove Parkway.

"The officer attempted to contact the suspect, who tried running away. A physical struggle ensued with the suspect, which lasted just over a minute," Tempe police spokesperson Sgt. Hector Encinas said in the video.

Body camera footage of the struggle shows the officer, a 20-year department veteran, tell the unnamed suspect, "If you take that out, I will shoot you," referring to what Tempe police said was a knife.

"If you don't drop that knife, I swear to God, I will shoot you," the officer said.

Encinas said that the officer recognized that the suspect had opened the knife and disengaged while trying to stand back up.

At this point in the video, the officer's body camera footage shows the suspect stand up, moving wearily as the two regain their footing.

When the officer gets to his feet, he pulls out his gun, pointing it at the suspect, telling him to "get on the ground."

The suspect goes to his knees and the officer begins to radio dispatch. While doing so, the suspect can be heard murmuring something as he stands back up.

He starts to move away from the officer, with the gun still trained on him and the officer telling him to "drop it." The suspect once again goes to his knees, while the officer tells him to get down on his face.

The officer tells the suspect not to move, as he can be seen crawling toward the officer. The officer tells him a few more times to stop before shooting the suspect on the ground.

Police said that the officer fired one shot, which struck the suspect, who was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

"Officers located the knife the suspect was holding near his body," Encinas said. "The distance between the shooting was approximately 12 feet."

The criminal investigation portion of the incident will be reviewed by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, while police said it is also the subject of an administrative investigation to conclude "whether the actions of the officer are consistent with department policy and the law."

No other information had been released.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Tempe police release footage of officer shooting Walmart shoplifter