A 14-year-old who was shot seven times by police in New Jersey is facing aggravated assault and weapons charges.
Radazz Hearns was with a few friends on Aug. 7 when shots rang out in the Mercer County area. The person who called police identified the suspected shooters as Hearns and his friends. Hearns’ friends stayed to speak with police, however, the young man decided to run away. According to The Trentonian:
The sheriff’s officer and one of the state troopers then chased Hearns, and during the pursuit, officials say, Hearns allegedly pointed a .22 caliber handgun at the officers. The AG’s office says law enforcement witnesses and a civilian eyewitness who were at the scene said Hearns had the gun in his hand as he ran, and that one of the officers yelled “gun” before they fired.
An initial report said the teen was pulling up his pants before the officers fired seven times, striking Hearns in the back and buttocks area. An eyewitness spoke to reporters about what she saw from her bedroom window.
Think Progress reports:
Rhonda Tirado alleges the boys were laughing and joking for 15 minutes before the cops arrived near her house, and agrees that the three males were confronted by the officers. She also contends Hearns tried to flee. But Tirado says the teenager looked like he was trying to pull his pants up — not grabbing a weapon.
“Those police were amped and they didn’t give that little boy a chance,” she explained to NJ.com. “There was no room for no chase. They just shot that little boy right there.”
A preliminary investigation launched after the shooting revealed a gun was recovered at the scene.
Hearns was charged with unlawful possession of a handgun, aggravated assault, and possession of a defaced firearm.
The lawyer of the officer who shot Hearns said his client was justified in his actions.
“The witness statements are pretty well-founded, including from individuals whom the teenager was with,” Stuart Alterman said. “I’ve said from the outset that my client, along with the other officers involved, acted professionally, admirably and pursuant to their training and experience. They engaged in a justified use of force.”
Community members and family members disagree with the charges. Hearns is currently in the hospital and is expected to appear in family court once he’s made a full recovery. The Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is also looking into the officer’s actions.
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