Glendale, AZ — It was supposed to be a Snapchat organized drive-in party in an industrial part of Glendale, AZ long after the businesses closed for the week. But what started off as an idea for a less than legal meet up in cars and groups ended with one 17-year-old high school student being gunned down by police. Levy Isaac Madueno Santibanez was shot after apparently ignoring police commands to disperse and get on the ground. The incident was captured on video and it is nothing short of horrifying.
Now, months after the October shooting, as the investigation continues, the family of the slain teen has filed a $10 million lawsuit.
According to police, it was an illegal party with over 200 people at it. Officer Dylan Ansell, then a four-year veteran of the Glendale Police Department, was the first to arrive. He saw muzzle flashes in the crowd of hundreds, according to the claim, as reported by AZ Central.
“F–king hands up. Hands up,” he yelled as he left his vehicle, the claim says.
When the officer showed up, everyone, include Santibanez started running from him. As the lawsuit states, Santibanez looked back while he was running away. Ansell then shot him in the back three times with a “high-powered military-type AR-15 rifle,” the claim says.
“The act of running away does not justify for an officer to basically take it upon himself to commit capital punishment,” said Charles Slack-Méndez, the attorney representing Santibanez’s family.
A family member of 17-year-old Levy Santibanez shared this photo with me. A Glendale police officer shot the teen four times at a warehouse party where GPD responded to multiple shots fired. Police say Santibanez had a gun on him but it’s unknown if he used it. #fox10phoenix pic.twitter.com/m33s3gsni0
— Justin Lum Fox 10 (@jlumfox10) October 14, 2019
Friends of the victim say he was holding his cell phone which police mistook for a gun. Just as the lawsuit states, his friends claim he was running away from the police when the officer shot him in the back. Glendale PD claims the teen had a gun, had been firing into the crowd, and it was found on his person following the shooting.
The gun was found in his waistband, not his hand, proving that the officer had no idea the teen had a gun as he was not pointing it at anyone at the time he was shot.
"The cop saw Levy run away and he shot him five times in the back," Melanie Ruiz, 18, told The Arizona Republic."
Dozens of teens took video of police shooting 17-year-old Levy Madueno Santibañez after Glendale officers responded to a party https://t.co/ApWCw3xuHV via @azcentral
— Dianna M. Náñez 🌵🏜 (@DiannaNanez) October 16, 2019
Nevertheless, Santibanez was shot to death by Ansell. In shaky cellphone footage, the officer can be seen firing at the teen with his rifle. The irresponsible nature of firing multiple shots with an AR-15 into a crowd of teenagers cannot be understated. Witnesses also claim the only people shooting guns at the party were the police at around 2am. However, multiple casings were found all over the ground, from multiple guns.
The fact that no one was injured implies the fire was likely celebratory or random in nature and not meant to kill partygoers.
Immediately following the officer-involved shooting which left Santibanez dead, Glendale PD deemed the party an “illegal party” and claimed there were multiple reports of shots being fired.
Witnesses disputed the story that Santibanez was firing into a crowd, pointing out the obvious that someone would have likely been struck, but they were not. Adding to the suspect nature of the shooting, police changed their original version of events. Originally a department spokeswoman said Santibanez shot at the Glendale officer, but then police changed their story and admitted that this never happened.
17-yo Levy Santibanez died at a warehouse party- shots fired, people ran, Glendale Police respond. In the end, Levy was shot and killed by an officer, witnesses say he was shot in the back. Police say Levy had a gun, evidence shows he fired it at the party #Fox10Phoenix pic.twitter.com/wWP0mPxYDW
— Nicole Garcia Fox10 (@Fox10_NicoleG) October 15, 2019
Dozens of teenagers recorded the melee after the officer opened fire with one student actually capturing the shooting on a cell phone. It appears to show Ansell with his long gun, an AR15, pointed in the direction of Santibanez, supposedly opening fire after commanding the teen to “show me your hands!” The body camera footage confirms this.
In one video, we can see his friends attempt to pick him up after he’d been shot. He did not have the gun in his hands. Had Santibanez been trying to kill people, why were so many people attempting to help him?
“Long Live Levy” escrito en la banqueta donde permanecen veladoras encendidas para Levy Santibañez- joven baleado por oficial de la policia de Glendale después de una fiesta clandestina. Tenemos nuevos testimonios y nuevas imágenes de este caso a las 5PM por @UnivisionAZ. pic.twitter.com/ztURDJfjhd
— Liliana Salgado (@LSalgadoN) October 15, 2019
Santibanez was reportedly adored in the community who held vigils after the shooting daily to remember the teenager who wanted to make something of himself. He worked at a metal scrap yard and was saving money to buy a car.
“From day one, Levy and I, we just clicked,” said Joey Guy, who employed Santibanez at his scrap metal business, “He was the perfect, perfect kid.”
Ansell is still a cop with the Glendale police department.
Below is the disturbing body camera footage from that night.