Tempe agrees to $2 million settlement over police shooting of 14 year old

Antonio Arce's family filed a lawsuit seeking $5 million last year but will settle for $2 million

Tempe City Council unanimously approved a $2 million settlement to the family of Antonio Arce, the 14 year old who was killed by Tempe police in January 2019. 

Arce was shot by police while running away. Arce was seen holding an airsoft gun, which police allegedly mistook for a weapon. The shooting garnered national attention and city-wide protests sprouted, calling for justice for the teenager.

The settlement comes almost a year after Arce's family filed a lawsuit asking for $5 million against the city and its police department, according to the Arizona Republic

The settlement waives all claims made against the City of Tempe and those involved in the lawsuit. That includes the now-former officer who shot Arce, Joseph Jaen, who resigned from the department shortly after the shooting.

During the city council meeting, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said the city is settling because it recognizes that the officer who killed Arce was "out of line" and "wrong."

According to the settlement, Jaen was on duty responding to a call about a "suspicious pick-up truck parked in an alley." 

Body-camera footage obtained by the Arizona Republic shows Arce seated in the cab of the truck when Jaen called for his attention, failing to identify himself as police. 

Arce began to run. Jaen called for Arce to put his hands in the air, but he did not comply. Jaen then fired two rounds, and one bullet hit Arce's back shoulder. The teenager died at the scene, the settlement said.

Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir detailed that an internal investigation by the department found that Jaen had violated training and department policies, according to the Arizona Republic. Jaen did not face criminal charges for the incident.

ASU students attended two protests in early 2019 demanding justice for Arce’s death. The first protest was staged at the Tempe Police Department two days after his death, with his family in attendance, asking police to release an autopsy and body-camera footage of the incident, which police later complied with. 

The second protest, organized by multiple organizations, including Young Democratic Socialists of America at ASU and Tempe Against Police Violence, was staged two weeks later at a Tempe city hall meeting, where Tempe police showed Arce’s family body-camera footage of the incident. One ASU student was arrested at the demonstration along with three other protestors. 

Wyatt Myskow contributed to the reporting of this article


Reach the reporters at eborst@asu.edu and jhorst2@asu.edu and follow @ellieeborstt and @HorseySeven on Twitter.

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