Shooting victim's family mourns loss of son, father & friend

Shooting victim's family mourns loss of son, father & friend »Play Video

YAKIMA, Wash. -- She was engaged to be married. Now, her fiance is dead. Rocendo Arias was shot by a Yakima police officer at a car wash who spotted him with a gun. KIMA has the only interview with the family.

Rocendo Arias' family insists he wasn't trying to hurt anyone. But, the 23-year old was holding an Airsoft gun.

Police say it looked like a very real threat to the officer who approached Arias.

His family explained Arias's work schedule would have him out in the middle of the night.

"At night I can't sleep," said fiance Adriana Aceves. "I mean, I wake up at 3 am."

A family left broken.

"Each day gets better, but that's all I can wait for is each day," said Aceves. "But, I'll see him again."

Adriana Aceves was Rocendo Arias' fiance. The two have a four-month-old boy together, Rocendo Junior.

"He was a good man," said sister-in-law Elena Reyes. "He was the best man my sister could ever find, you know. They were going to get married, they were going to grow old together and now, he's gone."

They find themselves trying to answer the question: why him?

Rocendo Arias was killed at a car wash on Nob Hill Boulevard. The 23-year-old was shot in the head by a Yakima police officer at three in the morning. Investigators say the officer thought it was suspicious the car had been there for an hour. The family disagrees.

"Anybody's husband could be at the car wash cleaning the car for their wife," said Aceves. 'You know, he had to go to work at five. And, just because they're sitting in their vehicle, it's suspicious at a 24-hour car wash?"

But, then there's the replica gun Rocendo had in the car.

The family says the Airsoft gun had been stuck under the car seat for weeks. And, speculates that Rocendo must have got it loose when cleaning the car.

Police say his hand was on the trigger when the officer opened the passenger door.

"Can you understand why the officer reacted the way he did?" asked KIMA.

''I don't understand why he did," said Reyes. "I mean, I just know that's it's wrong. I just know that there was other ways to handle it."

In hindsight, the family wishes the officer called for backup if he thought the car looked suspicious.
Thinking that maybe then the outcome would have been different.

No final conclusions have been reached in this case. The officer who shot Arias is on administrative leave while prosecutors decide whether the shooting was justified. YPD is also conducting its own internal investigation.