Police officer fatally shoots 14-year-old boy who had an airsoft gun — and reportedly wouldn't let family view the body

A 14-year-old boy is dead after a police officer fatally shot the teen who was in possession of a replica airsoft gun.

What are the details?
The incident took place Tuesday, when an unnamed male police officer with the Tempe, Arizona, Police Department responded to a call of a suspicious vehicle in the area.

When the officer arrived at the scene, he reportedly caught a person in the act of burglarizing a vehicle in the area.

According to KTAR-TV, the officer approached the suspect, who was apparently inside the vehicle at that point.

The suspect — later identified as a 14-year-old Antonio Race — exited the vehicle through the passenger side and took off. The officer observed that the suspect was holding what appeared to be a weapon.

The officer pursued the teen on foot and demanded the teen stop. The station reported that "during the chase, the officer perceived a threat and shot the suspect."

The suspect continued to run and collapsed in a nearby alley.

Authorities discovered the teen a short time later and transported him to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The item that appeared to be a weapon was actually a "replica 1911 model airsoft gun."

Officers believe that the teen took the airsoft gun from the vehicle that he was reportedly burglarizing. Airsoft guns look like real firearms but shoot pellets typically made of plastic.


What else?
CBS News reported that the incident was recorded on the officer's body camera.

Retired police Sgt. Kevin Boontjer told the outlet, "This is unfortunately a situation that the officer is going to have to live with forever. They're going to carry some issues with them now that they know it wasn't an actual firearm. However, they're doing exactly what they're supposed to do by policy and procedure in their training with the police department."

Boontjer said that it was "impossible" to train someone to spot the difference between a real weapon and a fake one.

"It really doesn't change the dynamics of the event from the officer's perspective unfortunately," he said. "It is impossible to train someone on what is a real weapon and a fake weapon. It's just impossible."

Typically, replica and toy guns bear an orange tip to differentiate between real and fake. Boontjer said that people often remove the tips or paint over them to make them appear more realistic than they actually are.

Even with an orange tip, it can be hard to discern between the two, the retired sergeant added.

"Let's say that the gun did have the orange tip on it. You're running, your vision is bouncing, you can't keep normal vision as you're running, and you're trying to, again, assess a hundred different pieces of information as you're running," he explained to CBS. "And when we train these officers for these lethal force situations, we can't teach them to look at something so microscopic as an orange dot that is bouncing around, that could be facing away from them as the suspect is running away."

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

What has the teen's family said about the incident?
Jason Gonzalez, the teen's brother, told KNXV-TV, "I just know he's doing better, in a better place now."

"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," Gonzalez wept. 

"My brother, I feel like he got scared at the moment, started running," Gonzalez added.

Antonio Race's mother, Sandra Gonzalez, said that she wants justice for her son's death.

Through a translator, 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. No. I won't allow it, I want justice."

A video report from KNXV added that the teen's family wasn't allowed to see the teen's body in order to identify it.

The station's Nicole Valdes said, "One thing [Race's family] mentioned was that investigators did not even allow his own family to see his body. [The family] said [investigators] actually brought out a photo of him taken inside the morgue for them to identify."
Police officer fatally shoots 14-year-old boy who had an airsoft gun — and reportedly wouldn't let family view the body Police officer fatally shoots 14-year-old boy who had an airsoft gun — and reportedly wouldn't let family view the body Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 07:06 Rating: 5

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