He was trying to put the car in park — not run over officers — when police opened fire, an 18-year-old beer theft suspect told detectives.
Oscar Bobby Grey was shot in the arm, and his front-seat passenger, Kevin Olivas, 21, was shot in the head and killed.
Police pulled the car over on Monday after some cases of beer were stolen from the Bashas’ at Mesa Drive and Brown Road.
According to court documents released Tuesday, officer Jerald Ray fired on Grey when the car lunged forward toward another officer.
Grey told detectives he knew Olivas and Mesa resident Patrick Lee James, 37, were going to steal some beer and waited for them outside in a Dodge Stratus, according to the court documents.
Grey, a Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community resident, also said he knew he was being followed by the police. After he pulled over, Grey told police he tried to put the car in park.
"But (Grey) was having difficulty with the gear shift," court documents state. "The defendant believes the vehicle did move forward several feet during this time, but denied intending to strike the officers with the vehicle."
Grey is being held on $36,000 bail in Maricopa County’s Madison Street Jail in Phoenix on suspicion of aggravated assault and theft. James is being held without bail on a probation violation.
Grey’s mother, Little Crystal Sisto, 41, described her son and fellow Salt River resident Olivas as "good kids" who had never been in trouble before. She’s never met James.
Sisto questioned why police did not shoot her son to wound him or use a stun gun or pepper spray.
"Nobody was armed," Sisto said. "I just believe this was wrong. This was unnecessary. This was poor judgment on the part of the police department. It was just over beer. There wasn’t anybody trying to murder anyone."
Her son is devastated by the death of Olivas, she said.
"He made a mistake (stealing the beer), and I’m sure he’s seen it," Sisto said. "He’s really hurting, but he’s been honest about all of it."
Ray, who has been on the force for 11 years, has been placed on paid administrative leave along with officers John Dankonvich, who has been on the force for six years, and Brandon Monnens, who joined in April.