A man wanted by federal agents was shot and killed by officers last Thursday in Las Vegas. The thing is, he was unarmed when officers killed him. According to police, they thought he was holding a gun, which prompted the shooting, but it turned out he was armed with nothing more than a cellphone.
According to the Clark County Coroner's Office, the 23-year-old suspect, Keith Childress Jr., was shot multiple times, leading to his death, which was ruled to be a homicide. Las Vegas police are now investigating what happened in the residential neighborhood where the incident occurred in broad daylight at approximately 2 p.m.
According to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the man was wanted in Arizona for violent felonies, including attempted murder. However, a spokesman for the office of Childress' attorney disagrees. He said that the man was convicted of kidnapping, burglary, armed robbery, theft and aggravated assault in December 2015 in Maricopa County, Arizona. The spokesman further said that the man was never charged with attempted murder. Las Vegas police have not responded to this information from the attorney's office.
Suspect Allegedly Refused to Comply with Police
Two police officers were involved in the shooting. They were helping the U.S. Marshals Service locate Childress, when they found him outside a Las Vegas-area home. Officers say they repeatedly told him to drop an object that was in his hand because they thought it was a firearm. They further told him to stop walking toward them, but allegedly he did not comply. Officers opened fire, fatally shooting Childress multiple times.
Later, police discovered that he was only holding a cellphone.
According to a captain from the Las Vegas police, "At one point the officers told the suspect not to advance on the officers. However, the suspect did not listen, concealing his right arm, which the officers believed was holding a firearm."
Was This an Excessive Use of Force?
No doubt, this case will bring about the question of whether police officers acted appropriately. Some may argue that the officers were wrong to mistake his cellphone for a gun, that the officers used excessive force, and they should be punished. They may also argue that the police department should be held liable for this man's wrongful death. Meanwhile, others may see it another way: that the officers were merely protecting their own safety. If this man had any family members who could benefit from a wrongful death lawsuit, Las Vegas police department may soon have to answer to them in court.
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