Mother plans to sue after her teen son was shot and killed by Avondale police
AVONDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — A months-long mystery about who was shot and killed by Avondale Police is now over. Authorities asked for help identifying the person killed back in February. Police were called out to a Family Dollar Store near Dysart Road and Riley Drive for a shoplifting call.
Keitha Tucker claims her son, 17-year-old Amarion Hope, was shot and killed on Feb. 21. She said she had no idea for five months. “I just knew something wasn’t right because I know my son. He would have contacted us.”
Tucker says her son was staying with his older brother in Indianapolis, Indiana, at the time. Hope had talked about traveling to other states but said never said he was planning any trips. On Feb. 16, Tucker reported her son missing. For nearly five months, she had no idea where her son was.
“From a mother instinct, I knew something wasn’t right. It had been too long,” Tucker said. “We would call and the phone went straight to voicemail.”
Tucker claims a woman from Indianapolis called her about a story she saw from Arizona, which included a sketch that looked like her son Amarion. Tucker started calling authorities until she was able to help the medical examiner identify the body. Through dental records she shared, the examiner confirmed Hope was the person who was shot and killed nearly five months earlier. Now, the family plans to sue for $25 million. “Hold that officer accountable for killing my son,” Tucker said. “I want justice. My son didn’t deserve to die like this.”
Attorney Benjamin Taylor is representing the family. He says the body camera video shows that the officer didn’t need to shoot to kill. “You see on the body-cam footage Amarion running away, but he’s shot and murdered in the back by this officer,” Taylor said. “The officer could have used less-lethal force.”
After getting the shoplifting call, a responding officer saw a person matching the suspect’s description at the Agua Fria River bottom near Dysart and Buckeye roads. After activating his body camera, the video shows the officer approaching Hope and telling him to keep his hands where he can see them. Police say the officer saw what appeared to be a “sharp tool” in his waistband. He then attempts to put Hope in handcuffs, getting one of the cuffs around his left hand before a struggle ensues.
The body-camera video is obscured during the first few seconds before showing the officer on his back on the ground and Hope standing over him. According to police, he was trying to choke the officer and attempted to reach for his duty weapon, which was still holstered.
The officer pressed the emergency button on his radio during the confrontation, but other officers had not yet arrived. The video then shows the officer get back on his feet, break away from Hope and draw his gun. The officer then fired several shots as Hope turned to run away. He died at the scene, where police also recovered three knives.
The Avondale officer, a six-year veteran of the department, was taken to the hospital for injuries on his neck and left hand. The shooting was investigated by an outside agency, the Peoria Police Department, which has since forwarded its findings to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for review. MCAO had no comment Thursday since the case is open.
Avondale Police sent a statement Thursday, saying, “The City understands that the Hope family has experienced a loss. There has been communication between the City and the legal representatives of the Hope family. Due to notice of claim and possible litigation, the City cannot make any comments at this time about the statements made by the family or its representatives.”
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