14-year-old with replica gun shot dead by Arizona officer

Posted at 7:38 AM, Jan 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-19 10:14:14-05

A 14-year-old boy holding a replica gun was shot and killed by a police officer as he ran down an alley in Tempe, Arizona, authorities said.

The Tempe Police Department released body camera footage of the incident.

The officer, identified only as Jaen, was responding to a call from a citizen reporting a suspicious vehicle and approached a gray Chevy pickup apparently involved in a burglary parked in an alley, Chief of Tempe Police Sylvia Moir said in a press conference.

The video shows the officer taking cover behind a trash can while the teen exits the truck. The officer is heard calling for the teen to put his hands up as he runs away from Jaen.

“He’s got a hand gun,” Jaen is heard saying on the footage.

The gun was a replica 1911 airsoft gun that the teen had just stolen from the truck, Moir said. She said he had other stolen items on him.

The teen runs almost to the end of the alley, and the officer fires two shots.

One of the shots struck him in the shoulder blade and the other hit a wall at the end of the alley, Moir said. Authorities did not give a cause of death.

An attorney for the family of the boy told CNN affiliate KPHO his relatives are in shock.

“We’re in the process of trying to figure out what happened. The video is but one piece,” Danny Ortega said.

The family went to the police station and requested to see the footage. Ortega said the distance between the officer and the boy when he was shot seemed to be significant.

“It was a long distance. How this young man could have presented a threat at that far a distance is a question that needs to be asked.”

Officer Jaen has been on the Tempe Police force for 14 years and was in the National Guard from 2007-2013, serving in Iraq in 2011, Moir said.

He has been placed on administrative leave pending criminal and administrative investigations.

Moir said the department is focusing on being “open, honest and empathetic,” but urges “everyone to withhold judgment until criminal and administrative investigations are concluded.”

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said he joined the family in mourning their son, whom he identified as as Antonio Arce.

“All young people have the promise to lead lives of meaning and contribute to a greater good,” Mitchell said. “When that potential is interrupted for any reason, it amounts to a tragedy that cannot be overstated.”

He also extended sympathy for the police officers of the Tempe Police Department, which he said has been focused on building community trust. He said resources have been devoted to additional training, and he hopes to continue developing “understanding, cooperation and trust.”

Mitchell is also calling for thoughtful discourse and conduct while the investigation is underway.

“With the release of the body camera footage and the officer’s name this afternoon, there will be increased scrutiny on this investigation. That scrutiny is understandable and warranted. I would ask individuals to be patient as we learn the facts,” Mitchell said.