YCSO releases video of suspect’s fatal shooting

Photo courtesy of the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office

CHINO VALLEY – The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office has released footage from a deputy’s body-worn video camera of the shooting of a man during a traffic stop on Friday, July 21.

Deputy Theresa Kennedy, 52, and Chino Valley Police Officer Jeffrey Pizzi, 43, shot and killed Martin L. Avena, 70, when they stopped his van after his alleged involvement in a domestic violence incident, in which his wife was sent to the hospital.

Kennedy and Pizzi were among several officers who pulled Avena’s van over in the 400 block of Palomino Road in Chino Valley just after 2:30 p.m.

Avena confronted them with a gun, YCSO spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn said, and the officers fired. Avena was taken to a Phoenix-area hospital, where he died on July 24.

The video was released Friday afternoon, after Department of Public Safety investigators completed post-shooting interviews, D’Evelyn said.

The released portion, 8 minutes and 33 seconds long (6 minutes of actual body-cam footage), begins with Kennedy driving up to the van and giving her locations over the radio.

Avena doesn’t stop right away, but drives a couple of blocks down Palomino Road first. He finally stops, and Kennedy opens her vehicle’s door. Using it as a shield, she points her service weapon at Avena and shouts at him to put his hands out the window.

Because of the position of the camera and the patrol vehicle’s door, Avena and the van are not clearly visible at all times.

The video shows the driver’s door of the van open.

She shouts at him a second time, “Put your hands up,” and almost immediately, Avena’s hands and a rifle appear through the open door. Kennedy fires five times, apparently at the hands and rifle, and then it appears that Avena fires blindly toward her.

Kennedy asks if the other officer, presumably Pizzi, is OK, and then gets out and takes cover on the passenger side of her vehicle, but says she can’t see Avena.

The other officer, again, presumably Pizzi, says “The gun’s on the ground,” but they agree to stay where they are until more officers arrive.

There are several seconds of confusion, until another officer says over the radio that he can see Avena and he isn’t moving, but he can’t tell what is in Avena’s hands.

“The rifle is on the ground,” she says, before moving back to her driver’s side door.

Kennedy says, “His head is still moving,” and shouts orders to put his hands out the window again.

At this point in the video, the van can be seen again, and what appears to be a rifle is on the ground next to it.

A group of officers approaches the van with a ballistic shield, and goes up to the open door of the van. One officer gives an “all clear” hand signal, and the video ends.