Tuesday 24 April 2018

Parents of 15-year-old killed by Texas police accuse authorities of excessive force

The carbon dioxide powered pellet handgun 15-year-old Jaime Gonzalez was holding at the time he was shot. Photo: AP
The carbon dioxide powered pellet handgun 15-year-old Jaime Gonzalez was holding at the time he was shot. Photo: AP

Raf Sanchez

The parents of a 15-year-old boy killed by Texas police after bringing a pellet gun into school have accused authorities of using excessive force.

Jaime Gonzalez was shot three times in the hallway of Cummings Middle School in Brownsville by officers who feared he was trying to carry out a Columbine-style massacre.

Police said that he refused to drop the weapon, which closely resembled a real handgun, and that two officers opened fire after he appeared to take aim at them.

Speaking outside the family home, his father Jaime Gonzalez Snr said: "Why was so much excess force used on a minor? Three shots. Why not one that would bring him down?"

The teenager's mother, Noralva, showed reporters a photograph of her son dressed in his marching band uniform before flipping to pictures of his dead body and what appeared to be a bullet wound in the back of his head.

"What happened was an injustice," Mrs Gonzalez said. "I know that my son wasn't perfect, but he was a great kid."

Police defended the use of force in a killing that has shocked the United States, a country where many primary and secondary schools have metal detectors in the entrances and armed police on patrol in the halls.

Brownsville Police Chief Orlando Rodriguez said Jaime had "plenty of opportunities to lower the gun" but instead confronted officers with the weapon raised.

Shortly before the killing at the start of the school day on Wednesday, Jaime walked into a classroom and punched a fellow student in the face, Chief Rodriguez said.

He then reportedly walked out of the classroom and pulled out the gun, causing teachers to lock their doors and switch off the lights as they feared the student would turn the weapon on his classmates.

:: The FBI performed 16.5 million background checks on gun buyers in 2011, the highest-ever recorded figure. The number of checks rose 15 per cent from 2010 and a spokesman for the National Rifle Association said the surge was fuelled by fears the President Barack Obama would introduce more stringent gun laws.


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