Parents' plea for help for
their 15-year-old son, who was holding a kitchen knife and
threatening suicide, turned deadly early Monday when Mesa
police shot him in front of his family.
School junior Mario Albert Madrigal Jr. was shot multiple
times in the carport of his home near Dobson and Longmore
roads in west Mesa after police said he came toward them with
a knife "in a threatening manner."
The boy's parents
said their son had dropped the knife after he was shot with a
Taser gun moments earlier and was not a threat to
The shooting was strikingly similar to the
2001 death of Ali Altug, 16, shot by a police officer in his
Apache Junction kitchen as he wielded a knife.
really literally in shock when I heard. It is so close to what
happened here," said Altug's mother, Sande. "How can our
society allow that to happen more than
Madrigal's shooting occurred about 1:30 a.m.
Monday. His father said he was told by neighbors that his son
had consumed six or seven beers.
The officers involved
in the Mesa incident were identified as Sgt. Orlando Dean, a
10-year veteran, and Officers Richard Henry and Mark Beckett,
who have four and two years on the force, respectively. All
three fired their weapons. None was injured and all were
placed on paid leave pending investigations, Mesa police Sgt.
Mike Goulet said.
Goulet said police were called to
the home in the 500 block of South Johnson twice Monday
Police and family versions differed on
circumstances leading to the shooting.
officers, the parents and their 10-year-old son were
"They really made a big mistake. I feel the
Mesa police department made a criminal action to kill a
15-year old boy unnecessarily," said the father, Mario
Madrigal Sr., a U.S. Postal Service worker. "We called for
help and they killed him."
Madrigal said his son never
threatened officers and was "under control" and started to
shake after being shot with a Taser gun when officers started
"He dropped the knife after the electrical
shock," he said. "While he was laying on the floor an officer
got close and shot him twice."
Goulet said officers
tried to use a Taser gun twice but it was
"He's got the knife and he's advancing
toward the officers in a threatening manner. They are telling
him to stop and he doesn't obey any of their verbal commands,"
Goulet said. "He's coming at them regardless of the Taser. At
that point they had to discharge their weapons."
Goulet said he did not know how many shots were fired,
how far away the officers were or how many times the teen was
hit. The investigation is continuing.
said when he heard the police account, he grabbed a camera,
climbed on a neighbor's roof and took his own pictures of the
scene, including photos of his son lying dead.
first went to the Madrigal home about 12:30 a.m. because the
family called 911 when the son and father argued after the
teen came home after having "six or seven" beers at a
"They told us the 15-year-old was
involved in a verbal confrontation and had fled," Goulet said.
"Officers talked to the family and told them if he returns and
there are problems to give them a call."
At 1:13 a.m.,
911 got another call from the house.
Madrigal said in a
later interview, "I told him (Mario Jr.) that I was going to
take him to the crisis center where he can get help to stop
drinking alcohol." But, he said, "He took a kitchen knife and
says he is going to kill himself and that's when we called
police to get help to take him to the crisis
About two months ago, Madrigal said police
helped take his son to a crisis center to prevent him from
drinking alcohol. His son spent six weeks at the
"They helped us take him to the crisis center.
He was doing very well," Madrigal said. "I was suspecting the
same help to take him to that place."
But when police
arrived Monday morning, Madrigal said he told police his son
was holding a knife and would kill himself.
opens the door and she was holding my son's hands.
"One of the police officers pushed her away from my
son and one of them shot him with an electrical gun," Madrigal
"He was already under the effects of the
electrical shock when he was on the floor and they started
His father said the knife was
pointing toward the floor.
He said his son spent a lot
of time at home, enjoyed fishing, boxing and riding go-carts
in the mountains and wanted to join the Army when he
"He was a normal kid. He was always at home
and he would tell us when he wanted to go," said Madrigal. He
said his son didn't have a serious drinking problem but he
wanted to stop it before it got worse.
In the past two
years, about 90 percent of Mesa police have had a four-hour
training session on mental illness and retardation to teach
officers the signs of mental disabilities and better
communicate with those suffering from those conditions, Goulet
The Arizona Police Officers Standards and
Training Board is developing new training for police academies
on the issue and creating an advanced officer training course
on dealing with mental illness expected to be taught at
departments statewide in nine months.
He was the second
Valley civilian shot by police in 24 hours. Phoenix police
shot and killed Elias Cabarera, 22, after he shot and wounded
two other people at a home on North 50th Drive about 8 p.m.
Sunday. Reporter Brandon Babcock
contributed to this article.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (602) 444-7937.