PHOENIX – The Tempe Police Department on Friday released footage from an officer's body camera that shows the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old boy who was carrying an airsoft gun as he ran from police earlier this week.
The footage depicting the shooting of Antonio Arce was released as the department faces harsh criticism from the victim's family and local activists.
The moments leading up to the shooting were captured on Officer Jaen's body camera, which was worn on his chest, police said. Officials declined to provide the officer's first name, citing safety concerns, however, the department did release his photograph.
Activists told The Arizona Republic on Friday they had the opportunity to view the video at the same time police were briefing the media.
The two-minute video shows Jaen responding to a report of a suspicious car possibly used in a burglary parked in an alleyway in a residential area.
Jaen steps out of his patrol car and walks to a large trash can. He stands behind it as someone, who family members have identified as Arce, can be seen moving inside a gray pickup truck parked in the alley.
The officer points his gun as Arce steps out of the car. He calls "hey" at the boy before speaking into his radio.
Arce then runs down the alley away from Jaen as the officer demands to see his hands. Arce does not appear to turn around before Jaen fires at him twice, striking him once near the shoulder blades, as he chases him down the alley. The other bullet strikes a wall.
"He's got a handgun!" Jaen says into the radio. "He's got a handgun!"
Jaen calls for backup. Police say the teen fell at the end of the alley. The video shows Jaen stopping there, with his gun still drawn, pointing down at something on the ground. Police said the video was edited for public release so as to blur out the boy's body.
Police initially said the officer had seen Arce with a gun inside the car. They later determined he was carrying a replica 1911 model airsoft gun and "other items" that Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir said were stolen from the truck.
Photos provided by the department showed the gun still had the orange tip used to indicate the weapon wasn't lethal.
Jaen has been with the department for 14 years, Moir said. He was a member of the Army National Guard from 2007-13 and was deployed to Iraq in 2011.
He was placed on administrative leave during the ongoing investigation.
Moir said police plan to submit their investigation to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to determine whether charges should be filed against the officer. They've also opened an administrative investigation.
Moir described the shooting as a “rapidly evolving situation." She said the department is committed to remaining open, honest and empathetic at this time. She offered her condolences to the family of the victim.
"I urge encourage everyone to withhold judgment until the criminal and administrative investigations are concluded," she said.
Tempe police also provided the anonymous phone 911 call that prompted Jaen to respond to the area. The caller told the dispatcher he saw a truck parked in the alley behind his home and two people “taking stuff out of the backyard.” He was concerned because his house had recently been robbed.
Local activist group Poder in Action described the shooting as the "horrifying and heartbreaking murder of a child." They will be joining the family in demanding the Maricopa County Attorney's Office charge the officer with murder.
"Murder charges will be one step towards justice for Antonio's family, but will not transform the culture of violence in the Valley's police departments," the group said in a statement.
Tempe Mayor Mark said in a statement issued Friday he feels for both Arce's family and the community as a whole. Mitchell said he confident in Moir and her handling of the investigation.
"I am asking for calm and thoughtful discourse and conduct within our community," Mitchell said. "The outcome of both the criminal and the administrative investigations, whatever they may be, will be shared with the public. Only when the facts are known can we begin to heal.
"Tempeans come together for each other in good times and bad. I believe in the essential strength of our community and I know it will get us through this time together."
Arce's death spurred a string of protests and criticisms against the Tempe Police Department.
"They killed him,'' said a sobbing Sandra Gonzalez, the boy's mother, speaking in Spanish during Thursday's event.
"I want you to know the worst racists exist in Phoenix, Arizona,'' she said. "They treat us as criminals. I want justice. I need justice.''
Historically, teenagers are rarely shot at by Maricopa County law enforcement. Only 22 of the 405 shootings – approximately 5.4 percent – documented by The Republic from 2011 to 2018 involved suspects between the ages of 15 and 19.
About half of those were fatal. None involved children younger than 15 before Arce's death.
The first four shootings involving police in Maricopa County this year involved people under 20.
Arce's shooting involved the youngest victim since at least 2011, and possibly much longer.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Video shows Tempe police officer shooting 14-year-old as he runs away