Video shows US police officer fatally shooting 13-year-old on ground

Police in New York state, where the incident occurred, say the teenage boy was carrying a replica gun.

Video released late Saturday shows an officer in upstate New York fatally shooting a 13-year-old boy who had been tackled to the ground after he ran from police and pointed a replica handgun at them.

The teen was killed a little after 10pm Friday (02:00 GMT) in Utica after officers in the city about 400km (240 miles) northwest of Manhattan stopped two youths in connection with an armed robbery investigation, police said.

The youths, both 13, matched the descriptions of the robbery suspects and were in the same area at around the same time the day after, police said. One was also walking in the road, a violation of state traffic laws.

The body camera video released by police captures an officer saying he needs to pat them down to ensure they don’t have any weapons in their possession. Immediately one of the two, identified by police as Nyah Mway, runs away.

Authorities froze frames of the video where a running Nyah Mway appears to point the gun at the pursuing officers. Police also edited the video to insert a red circle around the weapon to show it to viewers.

The officers believed it was a handgun, police said, but it was later determined to be a replica of a Glock 17 Gen5 handgun with a detachable magazine.

“During a ground struggle” with the teen, one of the officers fired a single shot that struck the boy in the chest, Utica Police Chief Mark Williams said.

The teen was given “immediate” first aid by the officers and taken to Wynn Hospital, where he died, the chief said.

The replica gun carried by the teen “is in all aspects a realistic appearing firearm with GLOCK markings, signatures, detachable magazine, and serial numbers”, Lieutenant Michael Curley, a police spokesperson, said via email. “However ultimately it fires only pellets or BBs.”

A bystander video posted to Facebook shows one of the officers chasing after Nyah Mway and tackling him to the ground. It also shows the officer punching the teen as two other officers arrive. A gunshot rings out as the teen is on the ground and the officers quickly stand up.

The officer who fired his gun was identified as Patrick Husnay, a six-year veteran of the police department. Husnay and Officers Bryce Patterson and Andrew Citriniti have been placed on administrative leave with pay.

The police body camera video shows a chaotic scene.

Nyah Mway points the replica handgun at the officers while he runs from them. The officers scream “gun!” to each other as they run. Patterson then tackles and punches Nyah Mway, and as the two are wrestling on the ground, Husnay opens fire.

Officers initially thought Nyah Mway may have shot himself, and Patterson says, “I don’t know if he shot me.” It is not clear whether he is referring to Nyah Mway or his fellow officer. Patterson was not struck.

Bystanders scream at the police throughout the recordings, and at one point an officer yells back: “We’re trying to save him right now!”

The other youth was detained in the back of a police vehicle and was not involved in the shooting.

During his “public safety statement”, a brief interview typically done in the aftermath of a police shooting to ensure there is no additional threat, Husnay said he fired one round “straight towards the ground”. He did not know whether Nyah Mway had fired at the officers but said he thought the weapon was a 22-calibre handgun.

The police department released the body camera videos following a public outcry as the shooting roiled Utica, a city with a population of 65,000. It is home to more than 4,200 people from Myanmar, according to The Center, a non-profit that helps to resettle refugees.

Nyah Mway, who local media reports said was an eighth grader at Donovan Middle School, was identified as a refugee born in Myanmar and a member of the Karen ethnic minority.

A tense news conference Saturday ended early as Williams, the city’s mayor and an interpreter struggled to speak over repeated audience outbursts. Members of the community, including the youth’s family, were in attendance.

The police department is conducting an internal investigation to see whether officers followed policies and training. The state attorney general will open its own case to determine if the shooting was justified.

“I want to offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased party during this difficult time,” Williams said. “This is a tragic and traumatic incident for all involved.”

Source: AP