Society

Video Shows Officer Did Not Execute 15-Year-Old Boy

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Surveillance footage confirms that the off-duty U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer who shot and killed a 15-year-old in Arcadia, California, on May 26 did so because the teenager and two others were allegedly attempting to rob him at gunpoint. 

In the unreleased video, three teenagers, two aged 15 and one 14, are reportedly seen following the officer as he exits a light-rail train in the suburbs of Arcadia, Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. John Corina said, according to The Associated Press.

The teens approach the officer, who is wearing headphones and listening to music, from behind and hit him in the head at least three times, Corina said.

Darius Smith, 15, then points a gun at the officer's face and demands money, the lieutenant continued. The officer responds by pulling out his service weapons and firing seven times, hitting smith four times.

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Two of the officer's bullets struck Smith's chest and two others hit his buttocks. He ran from the scene and collapsed two blocks away. He later died at a hospital, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports.

The officer also shot another teen, who Corina says was held at gunpoint until police arrived, according to AP.

The third teen ran away, but police arrested him several hours later.

Smith's family attorney, Lee Merritt, said the officer "executed" the teen while standing over him.

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"He was not in the midst of a robbery," Merritt said at a protest on May 29. "He was shot twice in the legs first. He fell and his shooter got over him and shot him three times in the chest."

Corina said Merritt's claim was a "complete fabrication." Witnesses told police that Smith ran away while the officer remained at the scene.

“Surveillance footage shows that the officer never left the scene of the shooting, nor did he run after subject Smith onto Colorado Boulevard following the initial encounter and shooting,” Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the sheriff's Information Bureau said in a June 1 statement obtained by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

It has been revealed that the gun Smith pointed at the officer was fake.

It was a “a replica semi-automatic handgun which looks exactly like a real handgun,” Navarro-Suarez said. “The manufacturer of the gun boasts on its website that they are the masters of look-alike air guns and that their replica guns are realistic looking."

Authorities arrested the 15-year-old who was not struck by the officer's shots, and charged him with attempted robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. At his arraignment hearing on June 1, he denied the charges. Whether charges have been filed against the wounded 14-year-old, who was still hospitalized as of June 1, is unclear.

The investigation is ongoing.

“Although charges have been filed, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Detectives are continuing their investigation into the circumstances surrounding the officer-involved shooting,” Navarro-Suarez said.

The identity of the officer has not been released.

Sources: AP via Miami Herald, San Gabriel Valley Tribune via Pasadena Star-News / Photo credit: Tony Webster/Flickr

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