TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A family is speaking out after a 19 year-old unarmed man was fatally shot by a Pima County Sheriff’s Deputy.
Here’s some background:
This happened January 20th after the Pima County Sheriff’s Department got a call about a man trying to break into cars in a neighborhood near Overton Road and La Cholla Boulevard.
When deputies arrived the suspect was gone, but witnesses gave a description of the person's car.
Hours later deputies saw a car matching the witnesses description near the area of the attempted break-ins.
The man driving was identified as 19-year-old Bradley Lewis who the sheriff's department says was wanted for an aggravated assault involving a gun.
Deputies were told about that background.
Lewis did not stop when deputies tried to pull him over. Instead, officials say he drove to a home in a nearby neighborhood.
They accuse Lewis of ramming into a police car before taking off for the home.
Deputies say Lewis got out of the car quickly with something dark in his hand. They say Lewis then charged at Deputy Gilbert Caudillo with the item in his hand. Caudillo fired his gun, hitting and killing Lewis.
The sheriff’s department says that item was a key fob on a lanyard.
Last week, the family told KGUN9 they were devastated and unable to go on camera.
Now, in an exclusive interview, Lewis’ uncle is speaking out, demanding answers from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
Keith Lewis, the uncle of Bradley Lewis says they just want to understand what happened--but to this day, he says the family have yet to get what they were promised: a police report.
“He brought so much joy into our life,” he said.
Keith Lewis tried holding back the tears as he remembered his nephew. Bradley Lewis was on medical leave from the army, hoping to go back.
“He was my only nephew. He’s my brother’s only son. He’s my parent’s only grandchild,” said Lewis.
He says the family is reeling, still trying to wrap their heads around what happened.
“He was shot, and he was killed, and he was held by a deputy when he was bleeding to death...and that deputy went home and he washed that blood off of his uniform of a stranger he didn’t know. While we washed the blood off of a family member that we knew in our driveway,” he added.
Lewis says his nephew’s grandfather saw the whole thing.
While the sheriff’s department says one deputy hit Bradley Lewis, Keith Lewis says his father witnessed other bullets being fired.
“What they don’t talk about is the grandfather was standing next to another vehicle and had to crouch down to avoid the other bullets that were fired into that vehicle and into the structure...and I’d like to know who else was firing,” Lewis told KGUN9.
Sheriff Nanos says deputies were not wearing body-cameras, nor were there dash cams in their vehicles.
“We’re sitting with this hole. This immense grief. Alex is dead. Alex can't speak. Alex doesn’t have a voice. The body-cams would have been helpful because they would give us that firsthand account of what went on,” he said.
Last week Sheriff Nanos told KGUN9 there is a need for body cameras within the department and has put in a request with Chuck Huckelberry to add them to the funding.
“I only wish he had come to that change of heart before our nephew was killed,” said Lewis.
The sheriff’s department says Bradley Lewis was wanted for an assault with a deadly weapon. Keith Lewis says his nephew had previous confrontations with law enforcement but to his knowledge didn’t have any criminal convictions.
Here’s his message to the deputy who shot his nephew.
“We’re working to understand but we’re not holding hate in our hearts. I have a message for the Sheriff. I believe you can do better. And I...I hope I have an opportunity where I can go on and say...by having all of the information, we don’t like what happened, but we understand.” he told KGUN9.