13-Year-Old Boy Shot and Killed by Police After Chase


A 13-year-old boy was shot and killed by a police officer in Utica, N.Y., after a foot chase on Friday night, according to the police.

The boy was one of two juveniles stopped by the Utica Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit at about 10:18 p.m., the police said. After they were stopped, the 13-year-old ran and displayed “what appeared to be a handgun,” the police said in a statement.

After a struggle on the ground, a police officer “ultimately discharged his firearm once, striking the male,” Mark Williams, the chief of police, said at a news conference on Saturday.

Lay Htoo, a close relative of the boy, identified him as Nyah Mway.

Nyah was taken to a hospital, where he died, the police said. Later, officers recovered a replica of a Glock 17 Gen5 handgun with a detachable magazine, according to the news release.

The replica was determined to be a pellet gun, according to Chief Williams.

On Saturday evening, the police confirmed the boy’s identity and identified three officers involved. Patrick Husnay, a six-year veteran of the Utica Police Department, was the officer who shot Nyah, the police said. The others were identified as Bryce Patterson, a four-year veteran, and Andrew Citriniti, who has been on the force for two-and-a-half years.

The officers stopped the boys while investigating recent robberies in the area, in which the suspects were described as Asian males who brandished a black firearm and forcibly demanded and stole property from victims, the police said in a statement.

The police department also released a series of videos from the officers’ body-worn cameras. In one clip, an officer approaches the two boys, one of whom is seated on a bicycle. Two other officers approach and begin circling the boys with their flashlights. The first officer then asks if they can pat down the boys to “make sure you have no weapons on you.”

At that point, one of the boys takes off running.

In footage that has been slowed down, it appears that the boy turns while holding something that looks like a handgun. At that point, the officer chasing him yells “Gun!” and tackles him.

As they struggle on the ground, a gunshot can be heard.

“What happened yesterday evening in our community is an event that has become all too familiar and routine, over and over and over again,” Mayor Michael P. Galime of Utica said at the news conference on Saturday morning.

Nyah, who graduated from middle school this week, was the second of four children, Mr. Htoo said. He loved playing soccer and hanging out with his friends, which is what he had told his family he was doing Friday night.

Nyah had told his mother, Chee War, that he was going to meet up with friends to get food, Mr. Htoo said in a phone interview on Saturday. Ms. War waited anxiously for him when he did not return by his usual time — around 8 or 9 p.m. After 10 p.m., shortly after Nyah was shot, the police came to their home to tell his parents that he was at the hospital, Mr. Htoo said.

They drove to the hospital, but by the time they arrived, Nyah had already died.

“They came home, they couldn’t sleep,” he said. “They just cry all night.”

At the time, Nyah’s parents didn’t fully understand what had happened to their son, he said. It wasn’t until they saw the videos that had begun to circulate online that they learned he had been shot, Mr. Htoo said.

Nyah’s family members are refugees who belong to an ethnic group from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, and speak the Karen language. They settled in the United States about eight years ago, Mr. Htoo said.

A community organizer, Yadana Oo, said the family had fled from persecution and into refugee camps. The United States was an opportunity to start fresh “without fear of being persecuted by authoritative figures,” she said.

“To come here and to lose your child that way, it makes you question,” she said. “Did we run from one persecutor to another?”

In Utica, a city of about 60,000, refugees and their families make up about a quarter of the population.

Ms. Oo, whose family settled in Utica in 2001 when she was 5 years old, said that the Karen community and the broader Utica community had become more tightknit in recent years. But the shooting, she said, “shook that foundation.”

The news conference on Saturday morning drew a large crowd of residents, and as officials spoke, they voiced their anger, shouting in protest when Chief Williams said that the boy had appeared to display a gun. As the pushback grew louder, Chief Williams stepped aside so Mr. Galime could try to calm the crowd.

As Chief Williams gave a timeline of the shooting and answered questions from reporters, community members spoke up again and again to voice their frustrations, at times making it difficult for a Karen interpreter to translate.

“There’s a lot of emotions in this room,” Chief Williams said at one point. “But you’re asking us to be transparent, and when you shout over us, it makes it very difficult to do so.”

As the crowd continued to shout at the officials, Mr. Galime announced that the news conference was concluded and that they would speak directly with the boy’s family.

Video shared online appeared to show the seconds before and after the boy was shot. The footage, which was taken by a bystander, shows the boy running down a street, closely followed by an officer. The boy falls to the ground, rolls and gets back onto his feet moments before an officer tackles him to the ground.

As he is pinned on the ground, one officer appears to strike him and two other officers rush over. Within seconds, as two of the officers kneel over the boy, a gunshot rings out.

A person can be heard in the video yelling “oh my God” and “he just shot him” as the boy lies motionless on the ground.

In a statement, officials said they were aware of the video, adding that it “does not portray the incident in its entirety.” They also said the city would release footage from the officers’ body-worn cameras.

“We ask for your patience while investigating,” Chief Williams said.

The Police Department will investigate to determine whether policies, procedures and training were followed, Chief Williams said. In a parallel investigation, the New York attorney general’s Office of Special Investigation — which is responsible for examining any incident in which a police officer might have caused the death of a civilian — will determine whether the shooting was justified, he said.

The officers involved were all put on administrative leave with pay, the police chief said.

A vigil was scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday at the place where Nyah was shot.

Jack Begg contributed research.



Source link