Boy’s mother, ACLU want an­swers in Reno shoot­ing

14-year-old crit­i­cal af­ter shoot­ing

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

RENO, Nev:

The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union of Ne­vada joined those press­ing school district of­fi­cials in Reno Thurs­day for more in­for­ma­tion about the cir­cum­stances and poli­cies that led to a cam­pus of­fi­cer shoot­ing a 14-year-old boy in a high school court­yard a week ago.

Ch­eryl Pitch­ford, the mother of the hos­pi­tal­ized boy, was among 100 of his class­mates, friends and fam­ily who marched to Washoe County School District head­quar­ters on Wed­nes­day to de­liver a pe­ti­tion de­mand­ing all cam­pus po­lice carry Tasers and pep­per spray.

Reno po­lice say the boy was threat­en­ing oth­ers with knives when a school district of­fi­cer shot him in the chest Dec. 7 while sur­rounded by dozens of stu­dents. School district of­fi­cials have re­fused to say if their cam­pus of­fi­cers typ­i­cally carry non-lethal weapons. They say they can’t com­ment while an in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues into the of­fi­cer­in­volved shoot­ing that many Hug High stu­dents cap­tured on cell­phone video and posted on so­cial me­dia.

“There had to be an­other way,” said Pitch­ford, whose last name is dif­fer­ent than that of her ju­ve­nile son. David Hous­ton, the boy’s lawyer, said the teen had been bul­lied and beaten be­fore he brought two kitchen knives to the school for fear he’d be at­tacked again and ended up get­ting shot by the cam­pus of­fi­cer.

Holly Wel­born, pol­icy di­rec­tor of the Ne­vada ACLU, said law of­fi­cers have a duty un­der state law to use only the de­gree of force nec­es­sary to main­tain com­mu­nity safety.

“We in­tend to review the use of force, emer­gency and bul­ly­ing poli­cies of the Washoe County School District and mon­i­tor de­vel­op­ments as the Reno Po­lice De­part­ment’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion of this mat­ter con­tin­ues,” Wel­born said Thurs­day af­ter sub­mit­ting a pub­lic records re­quest to the school district.

The boy re­mained in crit­i­cal but sta­ble con­di­tion on Thurs­day. Hous­ton said ear­lier he was in a med­i­cally in­duced coma af­ter un­der­go­ing surgery fol­low­ing a stroke yesterday. Demick La Flamme, the fa­ther of a friend of the teen who was shot, or­ga­nized Wed­nes­day’s march.

“Lethal force should not be used as a first re­sponse - ever. Es­pe­cially into a crowd of chil­dren,” La Flamme said be­fore they be­gan the 2-mile trek es­corted by Reno po­lice cruis­ers and a half-dozen of­fi­cers on bi­cy­cles. “If you take any 82-pound, 14-year-old boy and hit him with pep­per spray, he’s go­ing to hit the ground.” Pitch­ford, La Flamme and more than a dozen oth­ers later jammed into the re­cep­tion area at the school district head­quar­ters to de­mand some­one for­mally ac­cept the pe­ti­tion. She showed school of­fi­cials a cell­phone photo of her son with an oxy­gen mask and other tubes in a hos­pi­tal bed while plead­ing for School Su­per­in­ten­dent Traci Davis to come for­ward and bet­ter ex­plain what had hap­pened.

Davis told re­porters the day af­ter the shoot­ing that the school’s emer­gency re­sponse plans worked “flaw­lessly” and praised the of­fi­cers’ “who acted swiftly to pro­tect the safety of our stu­dents.” She’s had no com­ment since she said in a state­ment Fri­day that she still be­lieves “the of­fi­cer’s judg­ment saved other stu­dents from deadly force.”

Pitch­ford said isn’t seek­ing an apol­ogy from the su­per­in­ten­dent. “She wasn’t there. It’s not her fault,” Pitch­ford said. “It’s her fault for not com­ing out and say­ing maybe that there was an­other way, or maybe it was not flaw­less - like she said in her news con­fer­ence ... Be­cause she wasn’t there. She didn’t know.” Irene Payne, the school district’s chief of com­mu­ni­ca­tions who ac­cepted the pe­ti­tion, said she couldn’t com­ment on the equip­ment cam­pus of­fi­cers typ­i­cally carry. She hugged Pitch­ford be­fore the group left the of­fice. Like of­fi­cers on the cam­pus of the Univer­sity of Ne­vada, Reno, school district po­lice are sep­a­rate from the Reno Po­lice De­part­ment but like their coun­ter­parts - are au­tho­rized to carry guns.

UNR spokes­woman Kerri Gar­cia con­firmed Thurs­day all their cam­pus of­fi­cers carry Tasers along with their ser­vice weapons. She said pep­per spray is op­tional. —AP

Ch­eryl Pitch­ford, third from right, the mother of a 14-year-old Reno boy who was shot last week by a cam­pus po­lice of­fi­cer, waits for school of­fi­cials to ac­cept a pe­ti­tion on non-lethal force in the lobby of the Washoe County School District head­quar­ters on Wed­nes­day.—AP

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