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Boy shot dead by officer in Utica during struggle had pellet gun, chief says


Utica, N.Y. — A 13-year-old boy shot and killed by a Utica police officer Friday night had a pellet gun and was shot “during a ground struggle,” said Utica Police Chief Mark Williams

The shooting happened at about 10:18 p.m. when police stopped two juveniles who were walking in the 900 block of Shaw Street, police said. One of the youths, the 13-year-old boy, fled from officers, he said.

As he was fleeing, police said the boy displayed what appeared to be a handgun, the chief said Saturday at a news conference held at Utica City Hall with Mayor Michael P. Galime.

A police officer shot the boy once “during a ground struggle” the chief said. He was shot in the chest, he said.

The boy was rushed to Wynn Hospital in Utica, but he died there. Police, who described the victim as Asian, did not release his name at this time.

A replica Glock pellet gun with a detachable magazine was found, he said.

The three officers involved have been placed on paid leave, he said. The officers were on the Crime Prevention Unit. Officers on that unit have to have at least five years of experience, he said.

The other juvenile with the boy was questioned by police and released, he said. Police refused to say why they stopped the two kids other than it was part of an investigation.

The news conference was chaotic as community members repeatedly interrupted and shouted at the chief. When Williams said the child had what appeared to be a gun he was overcome by the shouting and had to start over. When the chief continued, he explained it was discovered afterwords the gun was a replica.

Community members continued to yell at a point. The news conference was stopped and moved to another location so journalists could ask more questions.

Originally the conference held at city hall was going to be just for media, the mayor said. When they saw the large group of community members gathered, they allowed in the public in the interest of transparency, he said. Over 50 family members of the boy and community members gathered in the lobby during the news conference.

Family members of the boy arrived at the door and the mayor spoke with them. He expressed that he was sorry for the boy’s death to his mother.

After the conference, the mayor again approached the boy’s mother and tried to explain that the body camera footage would be released and that the Attorney General’s office would investigate any possible wrong doing.

While the mayor spoke with the boy’s mom a man yelled in the background that the officers need to be charged with first-degree murder.

An interpreter – believed to be translating into Burmese – was also brought in for the news conference. Utica has a large community of Burmese refugees. One person was seen holding a sign that said “our parents did not flee war for their kids to be shot by police”

Another person in the crowd yelled about the community members having run “from the persecution from the Burmese army.”

At a later date police will release complete body-worn camera footage, the chief said.

Police said that they were aware of a video circulating of the incident. The video “does not portray the incident in its entirety,” police said in a news release.

The video, posted on Facebook at about midnight by a person who lives in Utica, shows an officer chasing a boy down a dark street.

A woman watching or filming can be heard yelling “Careful, careful, yo, careful. You’re on camera.”

The officer tackles the boy to the ground and punches him at least once as two other officers appear in the video. Two officers are struggling with the boy on the ground and a third officer appears.

Then a gunshot could be heard. It is not clear which officer fired the shot.

The woman can be heard yelling, “Oh my God, he just shot him.” Other people can be heard screaming.

The struggle between the officers and the boy lasted 5 seconds before the shot could be heard.

After the shot, the video cuts to officers appearing to give the boy CPR.

The officers who stopped the two kids were part of the city’s Crime Prevention Unit.

The shooting will be investigated by the state Attorney General’s Office, which reviews all deaths involving police officers, the chief said. It will also be investigated internally by the police department, he said.

“This is a tragic and traumatic incident for all involved,” the police chief said.

A Utica police officer shot and killed a 13-year-old boy on Saturday, June 29, 2024.

Staff writer Rylee Kirk covers breaking news, crime and public safety. Have a tip, story idea, photo, question or comment? Reach her at 315-396-5961, on Twitter @kirk_rylee, or rkirk@syracuse.com.



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