HAZLETON — The big question in Hazleton Monday: was a police officer justified using deadly force over the weekend? Officers say the person who was killed reached for his gun. But his family told us today he didn’t.
Cell phone video is just some of what the Garay family calls proof that an on-duty Hazleton police officer shot and killed 26-year-old Jonathan Garay unjustly. Garay’s sister Veronica was at the house on Alter Street where the shooting happened early Saturday morning.
“It wasn’t justified. They should be charged as anybody else that would murder somebody because he murdered my brother, and he took a part of us away from us that we can’t get back,” said Veronica Garay, the sister of the shooting victim.
The district attorney’s office says police came to the house when a fight broke out nearby. The officer saw Garay was carrying a gun and grabbed him. According to authorities, the gun fell on the back porch of the house, and Garay grabbed it and tried to raise it toward officers. That’s when police shot him.
But Garay’s sister says that’s not what happened.
“He took the gun off my brother’s holster and threw it. My brother never had the gun in his hands. This man murdered my brother,” said Veronica Garay.
Police shot Garay multiple times. His sister says it happened inside the house, not on the porch. She says the officer had a vengeance against the family because of a previous incident.
Hazleton City Councilman Jack Mundie says the police wouldn’t hold a grudge like that.
“”We have a great police force. They do a great job. They’re trying to keep our city safe,” said Hazleton City Councilman Jack Mundie.
Garay’s family has hired an attorney to get the justice they say they deserve.
“I need the community to help us because if we don’t put a stop to it, someone else. This is going to happen to someone else.”