Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

The family of a 13-year-old boy who was shot and killed by police in central New York on Friday is demanding justice and accountability.

New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office is investigating the shooting of Nyah Mway, who was born in Myanmar and is a member of its Karen ethnic minority. Utica police said officers tackled the teenager to the ground and then shot him after a foot chase on Friday.

Police, who are conducting their own probe, released body camera video that showed a youth appearing to aim an object at them before they took him to the ground. The object was a BB gun that looked like an actual firearm, police said.

While the official investigations proceeded, Nyah Mway’s family and outraged community members demanded accountability for the death of the teen.

The mother of the 13-year-old boy who was shot and killed by Utica Police cries after listening to a translator inside City Hall in Utica, New York, U.S. June 29, 2024.

Daniel DeLoach/Utica Observer-Dispatch/USA Today Network via REUTERS

“We came to the United States, finally, to get the education and to get the good jobs here,” hoping for a peaceful life after decades of strife and violence in Myanmar, Lay Htoo, who identified himself as one of Nyah’s cousins, told the Associated Press in a phone interview.

The teen’s parents were waiting for medical examiners to release his body and wondering what would become of the officers.

“They want them to be in prison forever,” the cousin said.

At a vigil Saturday night, Nyah Mway’s brother, Lah, said through an interpreter that he wouldn’t be satisfied until the officers “are put in jail,” reported.

Others at the vigil questioned officials’ account of the shooting.

“None of it adds up,” said Kay Klo, one of those at the gathering.

According to police, Nyah Mway and another 13-year-old boy were stopped Friday night because they allegedly fit descriptions of suspects in an armed robbery that happened the day before in the same area. Police said one was also walking in the road, a violation of state traffic law.

The body camera video shows an officer saying he needs to pat them down for any weapons. While officers were questioning the teens, one of them – later identified as Nyah Mway – ran away, turned and appeared to point a black item at them.

Officer Bryce Patterson caught up with Nyah Mway, tackled and punched him, and as the two wrestled on the ground, Officer Patrick Husnay opened fire, body camera video showed. Utica Police Chief Mark Williams said at a news conference Saturday that the single shot hit the youth in the chest.

The teenager was taken to Wynn Hospital, where he died of his injuries.

Police said the item the boy was holding was later determined to be a BB or pellet gun that closely resembled a Glock 17 Gen 5 handgun with a detachable magazine. Police released an image showing the device did not have an orange band on the barrel that many BB gunmakers have added in recent years to distinguish their products from firearms.

A bystander video posted to Facebook and obtained by CBS News also showed an officer tackling the teen and punching him as two other officers arrived, then a gunshot ringing out as the teen was on the ground.

Regarding that video, police said in a statement that it was “aware of a video of the incident circulating on social media platforms, which does not portray the incident in its entirety.”

Husnay, Patterson and Officer Andrew Citriniti were placed on paid administrative leave as the investigations go forward.

Under New York law, the attorney general’s office looks into every death at the hands of law enforcement. The Utica Police Department’s probe, meanwhile, will explore whether officers followed policies and training.

The police chief called the shooting “a tragic and traumatic incident for all involved.”

To Nyah’s cousin, Isabella Moo, however, the police narrative seemed like “trying to criminalize him a lot more and trying to protect the police officers.”

“The escalation of this should not have happened, and our police officers need to be trained a lot better or a lot differently,” she said to AP in a phone interview. “The city needs to be held accountable, and this should not have been done to any child.”

Utica’s population of 65,000 includes more than 4,200 people from Myanmar, according to The Center, a nonprofit group that helps to resettle refugees.

Karens are among groups warring with the military rulers of Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country formerly known as Burma. The army ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2021 and suppressed widespread nonviolent protests that sought a return to democratic rule.

Nyah’s family fled about two decades ago from Myanmar to Thailand, where Nyah was born in a refugee camp, and then immigrated through a resettlement program to the U.S. about nine years ago, Htoo said. He said the teen’s father works at a convenience store.

Htoo said Nyah was keen on math, soccer and spending time with friends when he wasn’t caring for his younger siblings. Interested in learning, he sometimes attended Bible study with his friends, though his family members are Buddhists, the cousin said.

The cousin said he’d been told that on Friday night, the boy informed his mother he was going to a store to buy something, and that was the last she saw of him.

She hasn’t slept since, except for 10-minute naps, her tears resuming every time she awakens, he said.

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#Family #13yearold #killed #shooting #Utica #N.Y #police #demands #accountability

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