On February 21, 2023, an unknown person was accused of shoplifting unknown property of unknown value at the Dollar Tree. In response, the Avondale police murdered a 17-year-old Black teenager. A police officer found him walking on a dead-end dirt path in a desert area near the river bottom. The officer never told him why he was being stopped, why he was being cuffed – only to show his hands and not do anything stupid. While trying to cuff the teenager, he struggled and ran away. Though several officer only seconds away were on the way with sirens blaring, the arresting officer shot the child in the back as he ran.
Many officers were on the way, the area was empty desert where the boy could not hide, he was running away from the officer, he was accused of a misdemeanor not a felony but in either case, police are not supposed to shoot a fleeing felon unless he poses a danger. Later a kitchen knife was found in the teens pocket. But he had not pulled it out or threatened the officer and he was running away not toward. Undoubtedly, the officer was embarrassed that the teen had gotten the better of him. Embarrassment is not a reason to kill someone.
No stolen objects were reported to be found. While several officers had allegedly turned on their body worn cameras, we have seen only a partial video from the shooting officer. https://youtu.be/YewSy5XXMgI?si=qkiyF9EFd9IFabV4
The child remained unidentified under June 13, 2023 when the police found by dental records that he was Amarion Hope, a teenager from Indianapolis.
Because of the obvious conflict of interest, Peoria police investigated the case and originally labeled as an aggravated homicide. In their report it details that at 12:32 the officer found Hope walking in the desert. By 12:33:59, or two minutes later, he had shot him five times. At 12:34, the officer said he had “detained” the suspect; at 12:42 the suspect was declared dead. The investigation said Hope was told he was being detained but it is not evident on the available footage. The cop only tells Hope to keep his hands out where he can see them and not to do anything stupid.
Three days later the officer was interviewed with his legal representative present. He was well rehearsed. He claimed the man had a “long dead stare,” no emotion, and never said a word throughout. Because of that, the cop thought the man wanted to kill him! If the child had screamed, yelled or cried, the officer would have said the same thing. If the child had tried reasoning with the officer like a Harvard scholar, the officer would have said the same thing.
The NAACP sent a letter to the U.S. attorney on September 28, 2023 asking for this to be investigated as a homicide, a hate crime, and a violation of civil rights. “There is obviously no justification for this shooting. At the time he shot the teen, the officer’s life was not in immediate danger, nor was the life of any third party in immediate danger. The teen who was the victim of the shooting was not suspected of being a violent felon as to whom deadly force was necessary to effectuate an arrest. Furthermore, at the time he was shot, the teen was not threatening the officer with deadly force. Accordingly, none of the Arizona statutes justifying a law enforcement officer in the use of deadly force applies. (See A.R.S. 13-405, 13-410 and 13-411.)”
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is still sitting on the case. Avondale Police Department is allegedly doing an internal review, but it has been eight months, and the officer is still employed.
The murderous reign by area police has got to stop. They must be held accountable for their trigger-happy bias that results over and over with a dead Black person. The NAACP is working to ensure that criminal charges are filed. The family has obtained a local lawyer to bring civil charges.