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Family of 14-year-old boy killed by officer doesn't believe police explanation

Tempe police: Suspect fatally shot by officer was 14

Relatives of a 14-year-old burglary suspect who was carrying a replica handgun when he was shot to death by a police officer don't believe the police's account of events. Jason Gonzalez, from the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, identified the slain boy as his brother Antonio Arce.

Tempe police said they encountered the teen burglarizing a car Tuesday. During a subsequent chase, he turned toward officers, prompting one to perceive that as a threat and shoot.

The teen died at a hospital. Police said Wednesday he had a replica 1911 airsoft gun in his possession, which they determined he took from the vehicle along with other items.

"I didn't know him as someone who stole," Gonzalez told CBS affiliate KPHO-TV. "That's why I don't believe that."

The name of the officer who opened fire hasn't been released. Gonzalez told KNXV-TV he wanted police to explain what happened.

"A police officer has a Taser gun right? Why not shoot a Taser at him?" he said. "He sees a young boy, my brother wouldn't shoot. I know he wouldn't shoot."

A Tempe, Arizona, police officer stands over an airsoft gun authorities said another officer mistook for an actual firearm on Jan. 15, 2019. KPHO-TV

Speaking through a Spanish-English interpreter, the teen's mother Sandra Gonzalez said: "If they want to tarnish my son, they are wrong." Police said the shooting was captured on the officer's body camera, the footage from which hasn't been released.

Gonzalez told KPHO-TV Antonio went to a friend's house on the day he died. "Ended like any other day, you know, we know that he goes to his friend's house and he comes back," he said. "It's just that one day he never came back."

Gonzalez told the station he wished his brother would have called him for a ride. "I just can't get it processed through my head that he's gone, having to get used to not seeing him every day," he said.

About 100 people protested outside the Tempe Police headquarters Thursday night, according to KPHO-TV. Since the beginning of the year, there has been at least one other police shooting that killed a teen in Maricopa County, Arizona's largest. A Phoenix police officer shot and killed 19-year-old Jacob Michael Harris after surveillance officers reportedly saw him and three others carry out an armed robbery. Police said they were watching the group because they were suspects in several other robberies.

Also this month, an officer in the Phoenix suburb of Peoria shot and wounded a 17-year-old boy after getting a call about a robbery at an auto supply store. Officers said the boy had a gun. He was shot in the shoulder.