Arizona police shoot dead teenager carrying airsoft gun

Police, who say the boy was robbing a vehicle, mistook the 14-year-old's airsoft gun for a real weapon.

    In a press release, the Tempe Police Department said the deadly shooting took place after officers reported a suspect breaking into a car on Tuesday [File: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters]
    In a press release, the Tempe Police Department said the deadly shooting took place after officers reported a suspect breaking into a car on Tuesday [File: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters]

    Police in a Phoenix suburb have said that an officer shot dead a 14-year-old boy whose airsoft gun was mistaken as a real firearm during a suspected burglary. 

    In a press release, the Tempe Police Department said the deadly shooting took place after officers reported a suspect breaking into a car on Tuesday.

    When they confronted him, the boy ran away holding what they said appeared to be a handgun, according to the release. 

    During the chase, police say he turned towards 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 an airsoft gun in his possession as well as some items taken from the vehicle.

    They say the shooting was captured on the officer's body camera.

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    'I want justice' 

    KNXV, the local news affiliate, identified the boy as Antonio Race. The boy's family has criticised the Tempe police for using deadly force. 

    "A police officer has a Taser gun, right? Why not shoot a Taser at him," asked Jason Gonzalez, the teen's brother, speaking to KNXV. 

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

    Speaking to KNXV through a translator, the boy's mother, Sandra Gonzalez, demanded "justice" for her son's slaying. 

    "If they want to tarnish my son, they are wrong," she told the local media outlet.

    "Apart from the fact that they killed him, they want to destroy him. No. I won't allow it. I want justice." 

    Across the United States, police shot dead at least 995 people in 2018, according to a Washington Post database. However, the number is likely much higher because many departments do not share statistics. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies