Phoenix Police Department Releases Report on Shooting Death of Zachariah Pithan

Zachariah Pithan D149017.jpg
Zachariah Pithan, shot and killed on April 20 after struggling with Phoenix Police Officers

The Phoenix Police Department released a report Wednesday on the shooting death of 22 year-old Zachariah Pithan by a Phoenix Police Officer on April 20, an incident the report characterizes as "justifiable homicide."

See also:
-Did Phoenix Police Need to Kill Zachariah Pithan?

According to the report, four officers were on scene when the shooting occurred. They had responded to a report of fighting and of a door being kicked in at the Santa Fe Springs apartment complex on the west side, near 17th and Glendale Avenues.

Three, including the shooter, arrived around 9 p.m. that Sunday, and were directed to the third floor by a voice saying, "I'm up here."

Asked what the problem was, the voice, later identified as Pithan's, answered with a non sequitur "People keep breaking in."

The trio of officers approached Pithan's apartment, where the door was off its hinges. Pithan refused to come out of his apartment. As Pithan stood in his doorway, the officers tried to detain him.

Officer Andrew Wilson grabbed one of Pithan's arms, and Pithan pulled him into the apartment, with the other two officers behind. A fourth officer would arrive just before the shooting.

There's a Rashomon element to the accounts of the incident from the various officers. The report describes several clubs or sticks on the floor of the apartment. The shooter tells investigators how he and Williams fought with Pithan.

"[The shooter] punched him in the face and he fell backwards," the report reads, paraphrasing the shooter's account. "Pithan picked up one of the `sticks' and started to come up. [The shooter] gave him a knee strike to the face at that time to drop the stick.

"Pithan picked up a second `stick' pointing straight up in the air and reared back toward him. He thought he was going to hit Williams or him in the face. As Pithan was coming up with the stick, [the shooter] pulled his gun and fired a shot. Pithan fell on his stomach. [The shooter] grabbed his right arm and handcuffed him."

Pithan actually took two bullets to the chest. The shooter could only recall one.

The shooter talks to his attorney before the interview ends, then adds this explanation:

"He did not use his Taser because Pithan was trying to kill them. He did not think the Taser would work in this situation."

Interestingly, Officer Emanuel Codreanu and Officer Christopher Joja, each of whom struggled with Pithan as well, believed that someone had deployed a Taser when they heard the "two pops" of their fellow officer's gun.

Joja "could not see anything in Pithan's hands," before he heard the pops. He was busy trying to restrain Pithan's legs.

Codreanu, who came in last, went to grab Pithan's legs as well, when he heard what he thought was "the muffled sound" of a Taser deployment. When he looked back, he saw the shooter holstering his gun.

Codreanu does not mention seeing anything in Pithan's hands. The report does not indicate that he was asked about this.


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12 comments
sggrange
sggrange

Cops investigating other cops...


Just never feels like we get the truth...

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

This doesn't pass the smell test. Expect a wrongful death lawsuit. The guy was out of control but wasn't brandishing a lethal weapon. Had I been the senior officer on scene, I would have ordered my subordinates to withdraw, regroup, come up with a plan b and of course call for backup.

OBAMACULTWORSHIPPER
OBAMACULTWORSHIPPER

Emanuel Codreanu and Officer Christopher Joja

These people sound like outstanding legal immigrants.  They are on the side of the cult as well.  Remember, when our king says "Yes We Can," played backwards he said "Thank You Satan."  Thank You Satan!

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

A tragic situation in many ways.  A young man who was probably very mentally ill is dead because he did not receive the help he needed or was unable to comply with the treatment he was undergoing.  His mom's fiance says that Pithan was having delusions just 2 days earlier, but it doesn't appear that Pithan received any actual help or treatment.  Did the mental illness lead to the confrontation with the police?  Did the mental illness make it impossible for him to understand, comprehend or comply with the commands from the police or cause him to engage the police as he did?  Who knows.  Just a tragic situation.

Joe Ploskonka
Joe Ploskonka

New headline: Idiot attacks people with guns, gets shot.

Gregarious Raptopoulos
Gregarious Raptopoulos

The story should be called idiot gets shot for attacking police officers. This article is so slanted by referring to the officer as "the shooter" over and over. Personalky, I would expect to be shot if I kept coming at a police officer over and over. Its common sense.

Teresa Marie
Teresa Marie

I DO NOT think it was justified. I have read the story, Zachariah had no firearms or weapons in his hands as 4 officers were standing at his door. I am sure as soon as someone grabs an arm first reaction is to pull back! I am not going to die sect the whole article but brut force as in a tackle by the 4 officers would have been more acceptable then 2 bullets in the chest!

Ash Fenix
Ash Fenix

do you the shooting was justified???

bgray59
bgray59

Four Officers and one suspect.  Seems they could have controlled the suspect without deadly force.  

 additional comments:

1. The two shots is not inappropriate.  Officers are trained to automatically shoot twice.  It is called a double tap.  It becomes second nature and the Officer would not recall shooting twice.


2.  Due to a number of incidents/law suits, Police departments have lost many of the intermediate steps between verbal commands and the use of deadly force.  This is a classic case were the PR-24 baton would have been a good alternative to deadly force.

3.  Officers no longer receive the extensive training in nor are allowed to use many techniques previously taught for controlling a physical confrontation.

4.  The taser has become the primary device used to physically control a subject armed with less than a firearm.  In this case a TASER was not appropriate as there was insufficient time to deploy the TASER. Over reliance on this device and failure to use alternatives places Officers and civilians at risk.

The shooting appears to be marginally justified and a civil suit appears justified,

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