Marana, AZ – The Pima County Attorney’s Office has determined that a Marana police officer was justified in using deadly force against a man who brutally stabbed two people and refused to drop his blade.
Marana Police Officer Stephen Copp arrived at the bloody scene at approximately 8 a.m. on March 31, shortly after a woman called 911 to report that she woke up to find one man in the home stabbing a second man, KOLD reported.
Officer Copp spotted the first stabbing victim lying on the ground outside the house immediately after he arrived at the scene, bodycam footage showed.
The bloodied victim, who was lying face down in the front yard, told the officer that he was the homeowner, and that the man and woman inside his home do not live there.
The officer urged him to keep making his way out to the street, and radioed additional responding units to assist him.
Officer Copp made his way into the backyard with his duty weapon drawn, and a woman yelled out for help inside the rear of the home as he announced his presence.
“Help me!” the desperate woman screamed repeatedly.
As Officer Copp entered the home, he spotted a man lying on top of the screaming woman, and ordered everyone to show their hands.
Blood saturated the carpet near the woman, and additional blood smears were clearly visible on the wall behind her.
The male suspect, later identified as 24-year-old Juan Padilla, was gripping a steak knife, and ignored the officer’s repeated commands to show his hands.
Officer Copp ultimately reached down and pulled Padilla off of the sobbing woman.
“Shoot me, bro,” Padilla said, “Just kill me…Shoot me motherf--ker.”
The officer ordered him to drop his weapon at least 10 times during the encounter, and warned him that he would be shot if he did not comply.
As the female victim tried to drag herself away from her attacker, Padilla slowly began to rise to his feet.
“Just shoot me,” he said again, keeping the knife gripped firmly in his hand.
Padilla was just feet away from Officer Copp in the close confines of the room, the video showed.
The officer opened fire, and Padilla instantly collapsed onto the ground.
Padilla was hit three times, and was later pronounced dead, KOLD reported.
Toxicology results indicated he had fentanyl and alcohol in his system at the time of his death, according to KVOA.
The victims were rushed to a local hospital, and both are recovering from their injuries, KOLD reported.
Investigators said that the homeowner met the man and woman at a bar the night before the attack, and that he invited them back to his home to drink and sit in his hot tub, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
The male victim said he awoke to find Padilla stabbing him, and telling him that he “betrayed” him, according to the Pima County Attorney’s Office.
The female victim said the attack was underway when she woke up, so she called 911, KOLD reported.
The victims said that they did not know each other or Padilla prior to meeting him at the bar, according to KVOA.
The prosecutor’s office determined that Officer Copp was justified in shooting Padilla, and said he will not be criminally charged in connection with Padilla’s death.
"Padilla's non-compliance and previous use of the knife to stab and severely injure two victims made it reasonable for Officer Copp to conclude that the victim was in imminent danger of again being stabbed,” the county attorney’s office said, according to KOLD. “It is also reasonable for Officer Copp to believe that Mr. Padilla would try to stab him.”
Marana Police Chief Terry Rozema said that Officer Copp had no choice but to use deadly force against Padilla in order to ensure the safety of himself and the female victim.
“Non-lethal force in a lethal force situation just doesn’t make sense,” Chief Rozema told KOLD. "Sometimes that means you have to end somebody else's life in order to save someone's life. That's a tough decision. That's a difficult position to be in."
You can watch bodycam footage of Officer Copp’s encounter with Padilla in the video below. WARNING - Graphic Content and language: