More than two weeks after a Leavenworth man was fatally shot by a police officer in front of his home, family members say they are waiting for answers about what led to the shooting.
The investigation into the July 11 shooting of 47-year-old Antonio Garcia Jr. by a Leavenworth police officer is being conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and is still ongoing, officials said Thursday.
The police officer had been dispatched to Garcia’s home in the 1700 block of Rose Street on a report of a stolen vehicle and a related domestic disturbance when the officer became involved in an altercation with Garcia and shot him.
Days after the shooting, Garcia’s family members, friends and other residents protested outside the Leavenworth Detention Center. They still have questions they hope the investigation will answer, Garcia’s son, Antonio Garcia III, said recently.
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“Did he have a gun? Was he being aggressive? Why had police gone there in the first place?” Garcia III asked. “We haven’t gotten any for-sure answers.”
Garcia Jr., a father of six, had long worked for a local moving company, according to family members. Originally from California, he had moved his family to Leavenworth in 1992, seeking a better life. And for the most part, the family found it, his son said.
Relatives said the July 11 incident began with an argument between family members at the home. About 8:15 p.m., one police officer was dispatched to the house.
When Garcia left the house, he encountered the police officer as he tried to get into a vehicle and drive away.
Relatives say the officer tried to stop Garcia from leaving, and the two struggled over the door of the vehicle. Garcia tried to drive away, and the officer fired about five shots, relatives said, hitting Garcia in the head and chest.
Emergency medical crews arrived and pronounced Garcia dead at the scene. The officer was not injured, according to police.
Garcia’s son said Garcia was well-known to many police officers in Leavenworth. Police had been called to the home for disturbances before, and officers usually de-escalated the situation.
“It’s never been a problem in the past,” Garcia III said. “It was super surprising when it happened.”
Garcia’s wife, Heather Garcia, was arrested at the scene and charged with one count of interfering with law enforcement.
The officer was placed on leave after the shooting, as is usual in such events. The officer was still on leave Thursday, according to Leavenworth Police Chief Patrick Kitchens.
In a news conference the day after the shooting, Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said Leavenworth police had asked the KBI to step in and conduct the investigation as a common practice in police shootings.
Thompson asked Garcia’s family and the public to be patient and trust the investigation.
“It’s going to take a long time to process the information,” Thompson said. “It won’t have any bias.”