PHOENIX (AP) — Police in a Phoenix suburb said a burglary suspect shot to death by an officer was a 14-year-old boy carrying a replica gun.
Authorities said officers in the city of Tempe reported a suspect burglarising a car on Tuesday and that he ran away holding what appeared to be a handgun.
During the chase, police said he turned toward the officers. One officer perceived that as a threat and shot the suspect, who died at a hospital.
Police said on Wednesday that the teen had a replica 1911 airsoft gun in his possession, which they determined he had taken from vehicle along with some other items.
They said the shooting was captured on the officer’s body camera. The Police Department did not immediately respond to a request by The Associated Press for access to the video.
The name of the teen and the officer who opened fire haven’t been released.
But the ABC15 Arizona station interviewed a man and a woman identified as the boy’s brother and mother, who said they wanted police to explain what happened.
The boy’s brother Jason Gonzalez said, “A police officer has a Taser gun right? Why not shoot a Taser at him? He sees a young boy, my brother wouldn’t shoot. I know he wouldn’t shoot.”
Speaking through a Spanish-English interpreter, the teen’s mother Sandra Gonzalez said, “If they want to tarnish my son, they are wrong.
“Apart from the fact that they killed him, they want to destroy him,” she said. “No. I won’t allow it, I want justice.”
A Facebook page believed to be the teen’s shows photographs of a baby-faced boy with a peach-fuzz mustache, a few snaps with relatives and friends and a big, green truck. Friends of the family were putting together a GoFundMe page to pay for the teen’s funeral costs.
The department said it will conduct its investigation in conjunction with the Maricopa County Attorney’s office, as is customary in officer-involved shootings.
A self-described socialist group rallied in Tempe to draw attention to the case.
“We want to bring an end to the police brutality in Maricopa County and lock up killer cops,” said activist Alexia Isais. “We are demanding that police be held accountable for the killings they are committing, mostly against unarmed, marginalised people.”