TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — A suburban Phoenix police department on Wednesday played new body camera footage showing that a 14-year-old boy possessed a fake gun when he was fatally shot running away from a police officer.
Tempe, Arizona, police previously released a video of the incident, but showed reporters the additional video in an effort to tamp down a perception that the boy may not have had a weapon when he was shot. The new video, which was not being publicly released, showed Antonio Arce with an orange-tipped fake gun underneath his arm as an officer approached him after he was shot.
The police effort comes after the owner of a truck where the teen was seen before being shot initially claimed no weapons were stolen. He later said he wasn’t sure whether guns were taken.
Officer Joseph Jaen fatally shot Arce on Jan. 15.
Tempe police say they were responding to a call of a suspicious car in an alley when Jaen saw Arce inside the pickup truck. Video shows the boy exiting the truck and running away, and Jaen chasing after him. Jaen shot twice at Arce from at least 114 feet (34.75 meters) away, striking him once in the shoulder. The boy continued to run but collapsed on a street just outside the alleyway.
Police officials said Jaen fired because he perceived a threat.
The video shows Jaen, who was alone, standing behind a concrete wall as he commands Arce to drop his weapon. Arce is unresponsive, except for a quick moment in which he lifts his head up.
Several minutes pass as the frantic Jaen, who curses as he waits for backup, keeps a distance.
About five minutes pass before other officers who arrived on scene approach Arce’s body, turning him over and handcuffing him before they begin chest compressions.
“It’s just a (expletive) kid,” Jaen says. “It’s a (expletive) toy gun, man. What the (expletive)?”
Jaen is winded and in disbelief as he’s ushered back to his car.
The officer is a 17-year police veteran and is on administrative leave as the investigation continues.
The boy’s family told the Arizona Republic in an interview that he was a typical teenage boy who liked to go to the gym and dreamed of becoming a lawyer.
The family has retained an attorney and had planned to speak during a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, but cancelled at the last minute, saying the family hadn’t yet reviewed the footage reporters were shown.
Lt. Mike Hayes said Wednesday the department decided to show the videos to reporters to address a misconception that the boy was never holding the fake gun. But police didn’t answer questions about police protocol and when it would be justifiable to shoot a suspect who is running away.
Arizona has a “defense of third person” law that allows someone to use deadly force against another who is threatening or injuring a third person, but there wasn’t anyone else shown on the video in the alley as Arce ran away.