Phoenix, AZ — Police in Arizona have just released the full dramatic body camera footage from when an officer shot and killed a 14-year-old boy who had attempted to escape on foot while holding a toy gun with a visibly orange tip. For the first time, we are now seeing the full situation of what happened when Officer Joseph Jaen opened fire on Antonio Arce, killing him.
This week, the Tempe Police Department released the video among a slew of other documents, 911 calls and personnel files on officer Jaen. The files and the video were released only after the family and the media made numerous requests. Still, the department waited almost a full year after Arce’s death to release it.
The files reveal a history of excessive force dating back to 2013. In total, this officer, who shot and killed a child holding a toy gun with an orange tip, had 19 separate incidents — not including the investigation for killing Arce — in his record.
As Arce’s family still mourns the loss of their child, this cop with a history of excessive force was granted an early retirement with full benefits for the rest of his life.
Last week, Jean was awarded accidental disability retirement. In a unanimous vote on Thursday, the Tempe Police Public Safety Personnel Retirement System Board granted former officer Joseph Jaen’s request for accidental disability. Jaen submitted the request back in June of 2019, AZ Family reported.
As we reported at the time, the Tempe Police Department officer, known only by his surname, Jaen, was responding to reports of a burglarized car in an alleyway of the Phoenix suburb last January when he encountered the teen.
The body camera footage shows Officer Jaen encountering a grey pick-up truck, taking cover behind a trash can after noticing Arce was still present in the vehicle. After Jaen shouts “hey” to the suspect, Arce flees holding what authorities said appears to be a handgun. In reality, however, it was a legal airsoft gun with a visible orange tip.
As Arce approaches the end of the alley, Jaen fires two shots, hitting the teenager once in the shoulder while the second shot hits a wall at the end of the alley.
“He’s got a handgun,” Jaen is heard saying on his radio as he continues his pursuit.
Eventually, Arce can no longer run and collapses at the end of the alley. Instead of rendering aid to the dying child he just shot, Jaen initiates a several minutes long standoff with him because he couldn’t respond to the officer’s commands.
Once other officers arrived, Jaen realized what he had done.
“F–k man, he’s just a f–king kid. It’s a f–king toy gun,” Jaen is heard on his body camera saying minutes after the Jan. 15, 2018 shooting.
Clearly misjudging the situation, Jaen’s body camera recorded the officer claiming the small boy, holding an orange tipped toy gun was a man in his 40’s.
During questioning with his lawyer present after the shooting, Jaen appeared to know that he messed up.
“In describing his first realization that the gun the subject was carrying was possibly a toy gun since it had an orange tip, (officer) Jaen had difficulty speaking further until he finally stated, ‘it was like why?'” according to the police report.
As AZ Central reports, the police report also says that Arce’s mother, Sandra Gonzalez, had called 911 to get help in finding her son. She had called police because she didn’t know where her son was and he wasn’t picking up his cell phone when she called it, she has previously said.
She even told police that her son would likely run if he saw police, because they make him nervous.
Gonzalez “described him as having a nervous tick,” the police report says. “Furthermore, she stated that if he were to see the police, he would get nervous. Additionally, if the police tell him to stop, he would not stop due to being nervous.”
After killing Arce, officer Jaen was placed on administrative leave pending the criminal and internal investigations. Despite the fact that the investigations are still underway, Jaen was allowed to retire in May and was just granted full benefits last week.
Questions around the shooting have focused on the distance at which the teenager was shot by Jaen and the risk he posed while fleeing—which happened to be none.
Speaking on behalf of the family of the deceased, attorney Danny Ortega said: “It was a long distance. How this young man could have presented a threat at that far a distance is a question that needs to be asked.”
In July, 2019, Antonio Arce’s parents filed a $5 million notice of claim against the City of Tempe. That lawsuit is still ongoing.
When speaking with AZ Central, Gonzalez told them that her son was “a typical energetic 14-year-old. Like most teen boys, he occasionally found himself in trouble, but it was never anything too serious, she said. He liked to go to the gym and practice parkour. He dreamed of becoming a lawyer and buying his mom her own house.”
Arce’s mother then shared a heartbreaking anecdote about her son, showing how much compassion this young boy had.
One day, when he was 11, he came home from school and told his mother he was hungry.
Desperate and frustrated that the family didn’t have enough money for food, she took her anger out on him, cursing at him in Spanish.
“I don’t even have money for tortillas,” she recalled telling him.
Gonzalez said Antonio went to his grandfather’s job where the boy offered to help him sand furniture in exchange for some money so he could buy tortillas, she said.
“When he came home, he told me, ‘Mom, I brought you the tortillas.’ I looked at him and told him, ‘Where did you get them?’ He responded, ‘I went to go work with Papa Raul and told him if he would pay me, so I could buy you tortillas,’” she said, crying. “He always worried about us.”
Below is this disturbing and graphic video of a police officer killing a boy for holding an orange tip toy gun.