A black teenager was shot seven times after attempting to evade police officers on Friday night.
Trenton teenager shot seven times by a State Police trooper and a Mercer County sheriff’s officer on Friday night while playing with friends.
Radazz Hearns, 14, was shot five times in the right leg and once in the left, with another bullet lodged in his pelvis. The 14-year-old remains in a stable condition at Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton according to lawyer Samuel A. Anyan Jr.
New Jersey reports:
“He’s lucky to be alive,” Anyan said, speaking out on behalf of the family for the first time since the shooting. “We’ll be seeking justice. This appears to be an unjustified shooting.”
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Two State Police troopers and a Mercer County sheriff’s officer were responding to a report of shots fired at the Prospect Village apartments when they encountered three males walking along Louise Lane, according to the Attorney General’s office, which is investigating the shooting.
The three officers got out of their vehicle to question the trio and the 14-year-old ran, authorities said. Witnesses told authorities they saw the teen reach for his waistband before one of the troopers and the sheriff’s officer opened fire, the Attorney General’s office has said.
A .22-caliber handgun was recovered nearby from under a car on Calhoun Street 12 hours after the shooting, according to the Attorney General’s office, which has declined to name anyone involved in the shooting.
A spokesman for the Attorney General’s office said Wednesday that “darkness and the vehicle both impaired the ability of investigators to find it.”
The Attorney General’s Office has declined to say how many times the officers fired, though there appears to have been at least 10 shots.
The teen was shot seven times, according to Anyan, and at least three other bullet holes are visible at the scene – two in a nearby car and another in the siding of a house.
Anyan said he’s spoken to witnesses to shooting who would testify Hearns never had a gun.
Rhonda Tirado was sitting in front of her Trenton home Friday around 10:20 p.m. when she saw an unmarked gray minivan abruptly stop across the street and three police officers got out to question the trio of teens.
She saw Hearns, who she only knows by his nickname “Rha Rha,” run from the officers, and then the gunfire erupted, she said.
“Those police were amped and they didn’t give that little boy a chance,” Tirado said Wednesday, while re-enacting the shooting where the encounter started. “There was no room for no chase. They just shot that little boy right there.”
Tirado’s house is about 200 feet – roughly the wingspan of a 747 plane – from where the shooting unfolded. Tirado said no one from law enforcement has asked her about what she saw that night.
Peter Aseltine, spokesman for the state Attorney General’s office, said authorities would be interested in talking with Tirado or anyone else who witnessed the shooting.
“Our priority is to conduct an absolutely careful, thorough and fair investigation,” Aseltine said.
Tirado said she didn’t see Hearns with a gun. As he turned and ran, Tirado said she saw him grab his red sweatpants to keep them from falling.
“I don’t think those little boys had no clue what was going on,” Tirado said. “I think they was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Tirado said she saw the three teens pass her residence about 15 minutes before the shooting. As they returned on Louise Lane, they were laughing, joking and didn’t appear to be in a hurry before the minivan stopped, Tirado said.
Anyan said his understanding of Hearns’ encounter with police Friday night is that the officers were not in standard police uniform and emerged from an unmarked vehicle.
Anyan said he and the family are anxious to learn the results of the internal investigations into the shooting. The two officers are on administrative leave during the investigation, which is standard procedure.
Anyan said the officers will have to explain “why they were trying to execute a 14-year-old boy. You don’t have the right to be judge, jury and executioner.”
Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson has urged city residents to be patient with the ongoing investigation and avoid speculation. Concerned residents and clergy held meeting Tuesday night at Shiloh Baptist Church, less than two blocks from the shooting scene, to discuss the incident.
A second community meeting is planned at the church for Thursday at 6 p.m., city activist Darren “Freedom” Green said.
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