The Phoenix Police Department released bodycam footage Tuesday evening from a police shooting on July 19 that left 22-year-old Matthew Begay, a member of a mental health facility, dead.
The footage was included in a critical incident briefing, an edited video with some additional information about what officers say happened, released by the department. Public information officer Sgt. Brian Bower narrated the events of the incident and provided context to the footage and dispatcher audio released.
Since 2019, the Phoenix Police Department has produced videos with summaries of police shootings that include some body-camera footage, 911 calls and a narration of the events that led to the shooting.
The morning of July 19, police responded to a 911 call from the manager of a group home, which serves those with mental health challenges, near 111th Avenue and Camelback Road about a resident threatening to jump out a second-story window, according to Bower.
In the released call audio, the group home manager can be heard saying, “I have a member who wants to kill himself.” When the dispatcher asked for more details, the manager said the member was “standing on the window.”
Police also said the dispatcher placed a simultaneous call to a contracted mental health company to request a mobile crisis team. On the released audio from that call, the dispatcher for the mental health company said they had a “25-minute ETA.”
Bower said that on the way to the call, a supervisor asked for a Phoenix Police Crisis Intervention Team member to respond, and there is an audio clip of the request, but Bower said the supervisor was told no one was available. Bower said the team includes both detectives trained in mental health situations and officers with at least 40 hours of crisis response training.
The first two officers entered the group home at 10:15 a.m. on July 19, and the group home manager, who had placed the 911 call, directed them to Begay.
On the bodycam footage, the two officers are seen walking up the stairs, stopping on the landing between floors when they see Begay standing at the top of the stairs with his hands in his pockets. An officer can be heard asking Begay to “just come down here so we can talk.”
Begay stood in front of the stairs and told officers he would not let them up.
“I ain’t coming down,” he said.
The officers stayed on the middle landing while speaking with Begay, and Bower said they negotiated with him for about 15 minutes. In an audio clip, officers can be heard requesting a Crisis Intervention Team member again, but were told there was still no one available.
Two more officers arrived at the scene during the negotiation, but remained at the bottom of the stairs, Bower said.
At 10:31 a.m., bodycam footage shows an officer asking Begay, “You trying to fight? Is that what you’re trying to do?”
“Trying to die,” Begay responded.
Shortly after, Begay is seen taking a knife from his right pocket. He took two steps down the stairs with the knife in hand, while officers backed up. The officer wearing the camera from which the bodycam footage was taken drew his gun and pointed it at Begay.
“If you don’t drop it right now, I’m going to shoot you,” the officer said.
Begay also pulled out a long string and held it in his left hand. He was then about halfway down to the middle landing. The officer wearing the camera stood on the landing while the other officer stood just below the landing.
Begay took one more step down the stairs before the second officer pulled out a stun gun and shot Begay with it. Begay turned slightly, but it did not appear to have much of an effect on him.
After the stun gun was fired, Begay took one more step. The officer wearing the bodycam fired three shots with his handgun at Begay, which caused Begay to fall forward onto the middle landing, Bower said. He fell onto his back, and he is seen grabbing his abdomen.
All four officers then moved in, and in the footage captured on the bodycam of the officer who fired the stun gun, the officer who fired the shots is seen placing his foot on Begay’s left arm.
According to Bower, officers carried Begay to the home’s front patio to better provide Begay medical aid and to move him away from the three people who were still upstairs.
In footage from another officer’s bodycam, officers are seen administering CPR to Begay on the front patio. Bower said the officers continued giving medical aid to Begay until the Phoenix Fire Department arrived and transported Begay to a hospital. Bower said there he died from his injuries.
While the name of the officer who fired the shots has not yet been released, Bower said the officer has been with the Phoenix Police Department for two years and is assigned to the Maryvale Estrella Mountain Precinct.
Bower said the incident is still under internal investigation, as well as a criminal investigation overseen by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
Law enforcement officers have shot at least 36 people in Maricopa County so far this year, according to analysis by The Arizona Republic
Suicide, crisis hotlines for Arizonans
Services for Arizonans in crisis include:
- Dial 2-1-1 to reach 211 Arizona.
- The National Suicide Prevention Line is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 in English and 1-888-628-9454 in Spanish. It’s free and confidential for those in distress who need prevention or crisis resources for themselves or loved ones.
- La Frontera Empact Suicide Prevention Center’s crisis line serves Maricopa and Pinal counties 24/7 at 480-784-1500.
- Teen Lifeline 24/7 crisis line serves teens at 602-248-8336 for Maricopa County and 1-800-248-8336 statewide.
- The Trevor Project Lifeline serves LGBTQ youth at 866-488-7386.
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