Oct 10, 2012 8:26 PM

Victim's family demanding answers in officer-involved shooting

TUCSON - A Tucson family is asking for answers in an officer-involved shooting.

It happened last month at the Valencia Gardens Apartments on the south side.

Police say Sergeant Ray Mechtel responded to a 911 call that 23-year-old Johnny Castillo-Romero tried to shoot a man.

When Mechtel arrived, he said he saw Castillo-Romero in his wheelchair and asked to see his hands. Police say that's when Castillo-Romero reached into his waistband and pulled out a gun. Sergeant Mechtel opened fire.

Johnny Castillo-Romero's family is devastated that his life was cut short at the hands of police.

They plead for answers to move on. "We just want to know what happened? Exactly what happened.. That's all we're asking. What happened?" said Castillo-Romero's aunt Sonia Romero.

She can't believe her nephew was shot and killed by police. "Maybe it should have been handled in a different way," said Romero.

When Castillo-Romero allegedly reached for his gun and pointed it at the sergeant. "That just seems so harsh for a man in a wheelchair, and I understand that people think that he shouldn't have been treated any different, but he was different," said Romero.

Romero said her nephew had been paralyzed by a drive-by shooting in 2008.

"It's not like he could have ran away," she said.

She said he would have never tried to take away a life. "That's not Johnny..that's not Johnny at all," said Romero.

She said he was nurturing and caring. "He took a bullet for his best friend. He got paralyzed for the rest of his life for his best friend," said Romero. "He would have done that for me he would have done that for anybody in our family."

It pains Romero that her nephew can no longer fulfill his dreams.

"He loved the reptiles. He wanted to open his own pet store," she said.

She's dedicated a space in her home to his memory. But she said she can't move on until she gets answers.

That's something police say isn't possible right now. "Until we're completely sure about everything...that we've gathered all our facts and analyzed all the evidence..we don't want to comment any further until we are finished with that," said Sgt. Chris Widmer.

Police said this case will be submitted to the county attorney's office within the next couple of weeks to determine whether the sergeant reacted properly.

Meanwhile, Johnny's family will hold a vigil in his memory this Sunday at 5:30 p.m.

They will start the vigil on the 6200 block of South 6th Avenue to the Valencia Gardens Apartments.


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