CRIME

14-Year-Old Shot By Cops After Fleeing Now Faces Assault Charge

Authorities first said the teen reached for his waistband. Now they say he pointed a gun at police before they shot him.

A Trenton, New Jersey, teen faces assault and weapons charges after fleeing from police officers who shot him multiple times.

New Jersey's Office of the Attorney General announced three charges against the teen, identified by his lawyer as Radazz Hearns, in a news release on Tuesday.

Hearns was released from the hospital on Friday. He has been charged for unlawful possession of a handgun, aggravated assault and possession of a defaced firearm. 

The assault charge comes because, authorities say, the teen allegedly pointed a gun at police officers as they chased him.

New Jersey authorities shot Radazz Hearns.
New Jersey authorities shot Radazz Hearns.

On the night of Aug. 7, two state troopers and an officer from the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of gunfire in a residential Trenton neighborhood.

Officers on the scene said they saw three young men walking down the street. They got out of their car to question them and that's when Hearns ran away, according to the release.

Hearns' attorney, Samuel Anyan Jr., previously told The Huffington Post that the officers were in an unmarked car.

"He may not have even known who was stopping him," Anyan said. "It appears that he sensed harm and was fleeing."

The attorney general's office didn't say whether authorities identified themselves as law enforcement in its initial statement on the case, released three days after the shooting. Tuesday's news release states that "Law enforcement witnesses and a civilian witness reported that, upon arriving at the scene, the police officers identified themselves as police officers, and the juvenile then ran away."

That's when two of the officers ran after Hearns, the attorney general's office said.

New Jersey's Division of Criminal Justice alleges that the teen pointed a .22-caliber handgun at the officers running after him, according to Tuesday's release. 

"Law enforcement witnesses and a civilian eyewitness" told investigators that Hearns was holding a gun as he ran, and that one of the officers yelled "gun" before they shot the teen, hitting him multiple times in the legs and buttocks, the attorney general's office stated. 

The office's initial statement after the incident didn't mention that Hearns was holding a gun. It said only that "witnesses reported" that he "was reaching into his waistband" while authorities pursued him, and that "a .22-caliber automatic handgun containing three rounds of ammunition was later recovered underneath a vehicle at the scene."

Authorities now saw that Hearns, 14, was reaching for a gun before they shot him.
Authorities now saw that Hearns, 14, was reaching for a gun before they shot him.

Hearns' lawyer, Anyan, did not immediately return a request for comment, but he previously told HuffPost that no eyewitnesses he spoke to said his client was armed or that he reached for his waistband.

Anyan also said authorities did not find a weapon on his client, and did not discover one "on his path of travel."

The most recent release from the attorney general's office says a .22-caliber handgun was found "off to the right side of where the juvenile was running when he was shot by the two officers."

The gun was recovered 12 hours after the incident, the attorney general's office told NJ.com last week. An emergency response truck initially blocked a view of the weapon, but a civilian spotted it after the truck left the scene, according to the office's latest release.

Cameras at a nearby fire station and housing project should have recorded the shooting, Anyan said.

"We would like any video footage to be released," he said.

A spokesperson for the attorney general's office declined to provide further comment on the ongoing investigation. The office has not identified the police involved in the shooting.

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