El Mirage police bodycam shows arrests of family members during school lockdown




  • In US
  • 2022-08-18 01:21:22Z
  • By AZCentral | The Arizona Republic

The El Mirage Police Department released body cam footage on Wednesday from the arrests and use of stun guns on family members during a Friday morning elementary school lockdown.

In a six-minute, 22-second YouTube video titled "Incident Update," the police released body cam video footage featuring interactions between two men identifying themselves to officers as caregivers to Thompson Ranch Elementary students. Reports of an armed man near campus prompted a lockdown and barred them from entering the campus.

Police identified the students' family members as Vicente Raul Castaneda and Johnathan Vincent Davis, according to Chavez.

The video shows Castaneda telling officers he needed to enter the school as his sister was in the building and she was his responsibility.

A man in plain clothes, identified in the video as an assistant principal, assures Castaneda the suspect had not entered the building. This prompted the brother to shake hands with him and an officer. Castaneda is asked by the officer to return to the parking lot.

The video then segues to another man, identified as Davis and the father of a female student. Davis is seen trying to scale a fence of the school building and tells someone who appears to be an officer not to touch him.

According to text in the video, an officer tells Davis "he is 'not helping things' and that he was starting to make people panic by saying there was an 'active shooter.'" Neither footage nor audio released show Davis saying either things. Text early on in the video states not everything seen by officers is captured by the body cameras.

Footage then shows the officer putting his right hand on Davis' left shoulder, prompting the father to tell him not to touch him. Castaneda then appears and gets in between Davis and the officer, saying, "You need to back up, man. You need to back up. Come on, bro, you know better."

A family walks away from Thompson Ranch Elementary School in El Mirage after a lockdown on Aug.
A family walks away from Thompson Ranch Elementary School in El Mirage after a lockdown on Aug.  

Text in the video then states Castaneda, Davis and a woman identified as Darlene Gonzales, became "confrontational" with police.

"Based on observations by officers of Castaneda's continued disruption of government operations and disorderly conduct, officers were directed to arrest him," text in the video reads.

Body cam footage from afar then shows an officer with his left hand on Castaneda's chest as Davis approaches. The footage nears the scene but a convergence of people obstructs the view of what happens shortly thereafter.

The footage released by police does not include what was happening from the body cam vantage of the officer interacting with Castaneda during this part.

People in plainclothes are seen pulling Castaneda back. A woman is seen pulling Castaneda away while others, including officers, pull her away before she falls to the ground. It is unclear who this woman is. Also, in the background, a person who appears to be Davis can be seen lying on the ground.

As this happens, someone is heard saying, "Hey, there's a gun," and shouts of "Gun!" can be heard multiple times.

"During the arrest, Castaneda lost possession of his concealed handgun from his waistband. Several officers yelled 'Gun' and Castaneda was tased and arrested," text in the video reads.

In this part of the video, a handgun can be seen at the feet of Castaneda.

The video then shows body cam footage of Davis before a stun gun is used on him.

"Davis had been pushed back several feet from the incident and his mother attempted to stop him from reengaging in the incident. As officers attempted to arrest Castaneda, Davis yelled, 'Hey,' threw his hands in the air and ran at an officer in an aggressive manner, who then tased him to gain compliance," text in the video reads.

Castaneda is charged with misconduct involving weapons, possessing a firearm on school campus, obstructing governmental operations and disorderly conduct, while Davis is charged with disorderly conduct, according to Chavez.

On Friday, Chavez said one of the men was taken to the hospital and was receiving treatment.

Gonzales had not been arrested at the school, but charges were pending, Chavez said.

Lockdown prompts family members response on campus

Parents wait in line to pick up their children from Thompson Ranch Elementary School in El Mirage after a lockdown on Aug.
Parents wait in line to pick up their children from Thompson Ranch Elementary School in El Mirage after a lockdown on Aug.  

The nearly hour-long lockdown was prompted after a call to police was made around 10:30 a.m. by a school employee about a man with a gun seen approaching campus from the cafeteria door, according to previous reports by police and the dispatch call heard on the video.

The man, who appeared to be armed with a handgun and fled before the campus went into lockdown, was eventually apprehended, according to Dysart Unified School District spokeswoman Renee Ryon on Friday.

El Mirage Police Chief Paul Marzocca had advised family members to stay away from the school until the school district said otherwise.

Mirage Police Lt. Jimmy Chavez on Wednesday afternoon told The Arizona Republic the agency would later in the day release the identity and charges on the armed adult man arrested in suspicion of trying to enter the school. The unidentified man is no longer in custody, according to Chavez.

Police on Friday reported parents arrived on campus before students and school employees were evacuated as they received notifications from children at the school.

"During lockdown, it is very important that parents understand that nobody will be allowed on campus," Chavez said on Friday.

Body cam footage also shows officers wielding what appear to be semi-automatic rifles as they rush to the campus during the lockdown. The video also mentions officers swept through the school hallways to try and locate the suspect.

At least 60 law enforcement officers from different agencies responded to the lockdown with police having made it on the scene within two minutes time, according to information in the video.

Reporter Laura Daniella Sepulveda contributed to this report.

Reach breaking news reporter Jose R. Gonzalez at jose.gonzalez@gannett.com or on Twitter @jrgzztx.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Bodycam shows arrest of parent during school lockdown in El Mirage

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