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The Maricopa County Attorney's Office will not pursue criminal charges against Chandler police Officer Chase Bebak-Miller in connection with the 2021 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Anthony Cano.
Interim Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell made the announcement during a news conference on Thursday, saying the office extensively reviewed the case to determine whether there was reasonable likelihood of conviction for a crime.
"As a prosecutor one of the most challenging — and yet the most important — things I must do is set aside my feelings and focus on the facts and the evidence and the law," Mitchell said.
"The death of this 17-year-old young man is heartbreaking; I want his family to know that I acknowledge and I recognize the terrible loss that they have suffered," she continued. "But after an analysis of all of these factors, I have determined that the actions of Officer Bebak-Miller did not violate criminals statutes and this office will not be filing criminal charges in this matter."
Cano was riding a bike when officer tried to stop him
Cano was riding a bicycle near Nevada and Erie streets on the night of Jan. 2, 2021, when Bebak-Miller tried to stop him for a traffic violation, officials previously said. The officer claimed Cano did not have a front headlight and was weaving into both lanes of traffic.
Cano fled from the officer on his bike but eventually abandoned it and ran toward Gazelle Meadows Park. As Bebak-Miller chased the teen, Cano could be seen on police body camera footage dropping a gun and then reaching back to pick it up.
Within seconds, Bebak-Miller shot Cano once in the back and then again while he was lying face down. The teen could later be heard on body camera footage telling the officer he was trying to throw the gun away, but officials said they believed he was motioning the gun toward Bebak-Miller.
"That second shot is hard to watch but based on his (Bebak-Miller) explanation of it, that he thought that he was still in imminent danger, that is the crux of the decision," Mitchell said on Thursday.
Cano was taken to a hospital in critical condition and died two weeks later on Jan. 23. He was the first and youngest person shot by Arizona police in 2021.
Bebak-Miller was placed on administrative leave soon after the shooting, which is standard practice, but eventually returned to patrols, Chandler police officials previously told The Arizona Republic.
The Chandler Police Department declined to comment on the office's decision. Its internal investigation into the shooting will be presented to the Citizens' Panel for Review of Police Complaints and Use of Force, said Chandler police spokesperson Sgt. Jason McClimans.
'I don't know if I'll get past that'
Anthony Cano's family wasn't shocked but disappointed in the office's decision on Thursday to not pursue charges against Bebak-Miller, according to Eva Cano, the teen's aunt and family spokesperson.
"I think it kind of sets precedent that it's okay," she said, adding that she couldn't wrap her head around the decision.
"The first shot put him down and paralyzed him and then he stepped a little bit closer and took the second shot at him when he was already down and immobile," she continued.
"I don't know how the county attorney justified that second shot, which was the kill shot for him ... I don't know if I'll get past that."
Anthony Cano was previously described by Eva Cano as goofy but respectful and caring in nature. He was nearing his senior year at Chandler High School but had instead started pursuing a GED diploma to start college sooner and possibly a career in nursing.
Cano's death sparked protests in Chandler and furthered public calls for police reform.
The Chandler City Council last June unanimously approved separate settlements to Anthony Cano's parents, awarding $1 million to Cano's mother, Renee Clum, and $125,000 to his father, Anthony Cano Sr.
A city statement at the time said it "brings closure" to the family's claims but that the city admitted no fault as a condition of the agreements.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: No charges for Chandler police officer who fatally shot Anthony Cano