Tempe officer who fatally shot fleeing teen in January resigns

May 20, 2019, 3:34 PM

Joseph Jaen...

Joseph Jaen (Tempe Police Department Photo)

(Tempe Police Department Photo)

PHOENIX – The East Valley police officer who fatally shot a fleeing teen carrying a toy gun earlier this year has resigned, authorities said.

Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir accepted the resignation of Officer Joseph Jaen on Monday afternoon, effective immediately, the department said in a press release.

The Jan. 15 shooting death of 14-year-old Antonio Arce in a Tempe alley remains under review for possible criminal charges by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

“The death of Antonio Arce has deeply affected all those involved,” the release said. “The Tempe Police Department again would like to offer our condolences to the Arce family.”

Jaen had responded to a 911 call about a suspicious truck parked in an alley behind a home off 48th Street between Southern Avenue and Baseline Road.

When he approached the truck, the suspect exited the vehicle’s passenger side and fled on foot, holding an airsoft pellet gun.

Police believe Arce took the replica weapon from the truck. It had an orange tip signifying it wasn’t a real firearm.

In body camera video made public, Jaen was heard yelling “let me see your hands” before firing twice at the boy, who kept running down an alley and around the corner.

While continuing his pursuit, Jaen was heard radioing in that shots were fired and the suspect had a gun.

He slowed down as he rounded the corner, and the footage ended before he encountered the suspect.

Tempe police gave the media access to unredacted video that showed nearly seven minutes passing after the teen was shot until officers began performing life-saving measures.

In addition to the criminal probe, Tempe police are conducting an administrative investigation.

“At the conclusion of the criminal review and the administrative investigation, additional information will be available,” the release said.

Tempe Officers Association President Rob Ferraro issued a statement in support of the city’s transparency and fairness during the review process.

“The officers of TOA again respectfully ask the members of the community and everyone touched by this incident to withhold judgement until the ongoing review of the case has been completed and all the facts are known,” Ferraro said.

Jaen, who has been with the Tempe Police Department for 14 years, has been on leave during the investigation.

“That he [resigned] — after 17 years of service as a police officer and after serving his country as a U.S. Army combat veteran who fulfilled multiple deployments — should stand as proof of how deeply Officer Jaen has been impacted by this tragedy,” Ferraro said.

“Our thoughts are with him and his loved ones just as they are with the Arce family.

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Tempe officer who fatally shot fleeing teen in January resigns