Parents of teen shot by Tempe officer ‘shocked’ no charges filed
Jan 31, 2020, 5:03 PM | Updated: 5:22 pm
(KTAR News Photo/Griselda Zetino)
PHOENIX — The parents of a teen shot and killed by a now-retired Tempe police officer last year were disappointed to learn no criminal charges will be filed, their attorney said Friday.
“Clearly my clients were shocked at the decision by the county attorney, but they will pursue civil remedies,” Daniel Ortega, the attorney for 14-year-old Antonio Arce’s parents, said during a press conference at his office.
Earlier in the day, Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel announced prosecutors wouldn’t file charges because they likely would not have won a conviction against Joseph Jaen.
Jaen fatally shot Arce last year as he ran away down an alley while carrying an airsoft replica handgun he allegedly took from a truck.
Ortega said that even though Arce’s parents, Sandra Gonzalez and Juan Antonio Arce, are disappointed by the decision, they will move forward with the civil lawsuit they filed this month against Jaen and the city of Tempe.
The lawsuit claims Jaen’s shooting of Arce “was entirely unjustified” and asks for a jury trial.
Adel said the decision on charges doesn’t have an impact on the civil case.
When announcing that no charges would be filed, Adel said Jaen, who resigned in May, had reason to believe “he was in imminent danger” during the Jan. 15, 2019, incident.
“In those few split seconds, officer Jaen believed that someone was fleeing the scene of a crime, that they were in possession of a handgun and holding it in a manner where the weapon could be easily discharged,” she said.
Ortega disagreed with Adel’s decision. He said Jaen’s use of force was not reasonable and that there was no basis to conclude the teen was an imminent threat.
“The video shows that Antonio never pointed that supposed weapon at officer Jaen, made no threats or any aggressive move whatsoever,” he said. “In fact, Antonio had his back turned, was over 100 feet away and never faced officer Jaen at any point.”
Ortega said body camera footage also shows Jaen did not announce himself or make a verbal warning prior to shooting Arce.
In July 2019, Arce’s parents filed a $5 million notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit as required by Arizona law, over the shooting.