Family of man shot by officer files lawsuit to see police body cam footage

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LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- A family is so desperate to learn why their father was shot and killed by a Leavenworth police officer, they're asking a judge to let them watch the last moments of his life in a newly filed lawsuit. In the lawsuit filed last week against the city of Leavenworth, Garcia's family asks for the release of the officer's body cam video.

"I don't know how you can emotionally prepare to see your father be gunned down, but it's something that needs to be seen," Antoinette Garcia, Antonio Garcia Jr,'s daughter said.

Last July, 47-year-old Antonio Garcia, Jr.  died after an officer responded to a call about a domestic dispute.  After an investigation that officer - Matthew Harrington - was fired because it was determined he violated policy.

Attorneys for Garcia's family say they filed several open records requests asking to see the video.
His family says they're in the dark about what lead  to the officer's actions, and seeing which policy he violated would give them the answers they've waited for, for more than a year.

"It's hard to want to move on but you can't because you don't know what happened to your father," Garcia said.

In this lawsuit filed on behalf of Garcia's family, attorneys say Garcia was in his own car, unarmed, at his own house when a Leavenworth Police Officer shot and killed him. They called the lawsuit a last resort to see the body cam video that shows the shooting.

"It shouldn't be hard to share the truth with the community that you serve," said Ben Crump, an attorney for the Garcia family.

Attorneys say all of their public record requests have been denied by the city of Leavenworth. They went so far as to do their own investigation.

"We have eye witness accounts of what happened and we believe quite clearly the video will show there was no reason at all for this officer to pull the trigger that night and end this man's life," Ken Barnes, attorney for the Garcia family said.

So far, attorneys say Garcia's wife Heather was the only family member to see the video, in connection to a criminal matter.
She wasn't legally allowed to disclose anything about what she saw. Other family members say, police told them they would be able to see the video when the investigation was finished. Officer Matthew Harrington was fired in January.

"We need to figure out what rules in the state of Kansas were broken," John Cusick, attorney for the Garcia Family said. "Why is he no longer with the office?"

Attorney Ben Crump says he wants the video to be released as a teachable moment.  What went can law enforcement be more transparent...and how can communities, especially those of color, build trust with police. Garcia's daughter says if the video is released to the could prevent other families from going through the same situation.

"He loved life," Garcia said. "And it was stolen from him. So we're gonna stay on this until we get answers."

We reached out to the attorney, Mike Seck , who represents the Leavenworth Police Department and the City of Leavenworth. Seck wrote through email, "I only recently received a copy of the lawsuit and will be in the process of reviewing it for the City. I will have no comment while the litigation is pending."

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