Maricopa County’s next top prosecutor will face 50+ shooting cases involving officers

This case will soon head to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for review
This case will soon head to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for review(Arizona's Family)
Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 10:03 PM MST
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PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – While Maricopa County’s next top prosecutor is uncertain, their challenges include investigating at least 50 shootings involving police officers. The County Attorney’s Office ultimately determines if an officer will be charged.

Arizona’s Family spoke with one family still waiting for answers after the death of their son earlier this month.

Video from a bus security camera shows a hooded man getting into an unlocked police cruiser that was still running. He was later identified as 39-year-old Adam Vespoli. Within seconds the officer is at that cruiser, with one foot on the running board. As Adam starts to drive off, the officer fires at least three shots through the open window, killing him.

It happened March 12 at the intersection of 75th Avenue and Buckeye. “Had he locked that car, which is part of police policy, my son would be alive today,” Mike Vespoli, Adam’s father, said.

Police said that the city bus driver called them to help remove two men sleeping in the back of the empty bus. Body camera video shows the officer asking the men to leave the bus. “My son was not a fugitive; he was not armed, he was not under arrest, he was just asked to leave a bus,” Mike said.

The officer felt he was in imminent danger of being run over and killed, according to the report.

This case will soon head to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for review. Faith in the office is being tested with the resignation of the top prosecutor Allister Adel, and there were 180 misdemeanor criminal cases dropped because prosecutors forgot to file charges before the deadline.

Gov. Doug Ducey had previously criticized Adel on March 15 for the dropped cases, stating Adel needed to take accountability for the error. Adel issued an apology several days later to the victims of the cases and took full responsibility. A week later, Adel announced she would be resigning from the office effective March 25.

“I hope that doesn’t happen to any other of those 50 cases, and I’m definitely going to make sure it doesn’t happen in this case,” Mike said. “You took a man’s life for taking a car, and that’s unconscionable in my mind,” he continued.

In response to questions from Arizona’s Family, the county attorney’s office sent us this statement.

“The work of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office continues during this transition. Critical Incident Reviews are ongoing. These are very detailed investigations and they take time to fully review and consider.”