A Teen's Shooting Death Was Avoidable, Even If the Cops Call It "Justified"

The kid had it coming.

That's the impression conveyed by the press release from the Phoenix Police Department on the recent shooting death of 16-year-old Alexander Wilson by an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer.

Wilson was cruising the west side with his friend Will Brown, 18, in a Chevy Tahoe when the unidentified DPS officer ran the Tahoe's plate and learned the vehicle was stolen.

The officer tailed the Tahoe and "requested backups from his agency," the release states.

When the Tahoe pulled into a Chevron station, the officer followed, then got out of his patrol vehicle with an AR-15 and "positioned himself toward the front of the vehicle."

According to the release, the officer wanted "to see the occupants and to give them verbal commands until his backup could arrive."

Supposedly, the driver "did not comply and revved the vehicle's engine before putting it into gear, telling his passenger he was going to 'slam it.'"

Then the driver "drove at the officer," who fired one shot, killing Wilson.

The Tahoe crashed into a wall. The passenger fled the scene but later turned himself in to police, who eventually cut him loose with no charges.

The DPS officer is listed in the statement as the "victim" of "aggravated assault on a police officer," allowing the Phoenix PD to withhold the name of the "8-year veteran."

Why not accuse the dead kid of attempted murder while you're at it?

Sure, a car can be used as a lethal weapon. But this was a 31-year-old DPS officer wielding a semi-automatic long gun who made the decision to step "toward the front" of the Tahoe.

That's unlike any "victim" I've ever heard of, unless it's in some Monty Python skit in which a prisoner "assaults" a policeman by butting his head against the cop's billy club.

We do know the DPS officer is a white male. Both Wilson and Brown are black. But we don't know what the DPS officer could see inside the Tahoe.

One thing the DPS officer didn't see: a weapon. Both Brown and Wilson were unarmed, a fact omitted from the statement.

PPD spokesman Sergeant Trent Crump also tells me that no drugs were found in the vehicle. A toxicology report done for the autopsy will take several weeks.

The press statement notes that the teen had an "outstanding felony warrant for armed robbery."

Sounds like a bad-ass criminal on the lam, eh?

The court record tells a different story. As my colleague Weston Phippen recently reported as part of his dogged coverage of this shooting, the "armed robbery" in question occurred in 2012, a month after Wilson's 16th birthday.

Wilson approached two males in a park "with his hand in [his] waistband," threatening that "somebody's gonna get shot" and demanding the keys to one man's car and their wallets and cell phones.

In the eyes of the law, a simulated weapon is the same as an actual weapon. So when Wilson was caught, with a small amount of crack on him, he faced his first adult felony and adult misdemeanor charges.

He pleaded guilty to armed robbery and possession of drug paraphernalia. In a sentencing memorandum to the judge, Wilson's public defender discussed that Alex had "substantial mental health issues" and a "serious substance-abuse problem."

The lawyer wrote that Wilson's father "spent a substantial period in prison" and that Wilson lacked a positive male role model. He got probation, with a ton of conditions. The warrant was issued because he missed a court date.

All of this, of course, is irrelevant to the shooting. Because unlike some, I'm not willing to write off the life of a 16-year-old and say he deserved the death penalty because he was in a stolen car and previously had committed a crime.

This child of God was not expendable, as many of the online commenters to Phippen's reports on the killing maintain.

Granted, Wilson's family and friends have not done their loved one any favors by protesting at PPD headquarters wearing T-shirts that read, "Fuck the Police."

In their defense, outrage is often not politically correct or well-thought-out.

But back to the shooting itself. Phoenix cops say there's no video of it.

Some DPS cars have dash cams, and some don't. Crump says the DPS officer's did not.

Phippen checked with the Chevron station at 35th Avenue and Camelback Road, where the shooting took place. The manager told him there's a camera in the store, but it doesn't capture anything from the outside.

The clerk on duty that night didn't see anything 'til after the fact.

Leaving two witnesses: Brown and the DPS officer.

Brown told Phippen a slightly different version of events. He says Wilson didn't say "slam," but "smash," which Brown explained as slang for getting out of there fast.

He also maintains that Wilson threw the car into neutral by accident, revving it. Then the DPS officer fired.

And he says the DPS officer never activated his flashing lights.

I asked Crump whether the DPS officer had put on his lights or put a spotlight on the vehicle.

"No," he responded. "He didn't pull the car over. The driver pulled into the [Chevron] market prior to the stop. I don't know if he got his spotlight turned on."

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257 comments
ruca_88
ruca_88

The people of Phoenix should riot. The police are NOT judge jury and executioners. Just because the car was registered as stolen does not prove the driver stole it. The burden of proof is left up to the judge to decided NOT the police. That is what's wrong with most of the comments I'm reading. It appears most readers know nothing about the judicial system.


Standard operating procedure is for the cops to tail the suspected vehicle and wait for backup. When officers do not compl
y things go awry. One officer versus 2 suspected criminals is not an ideal situation for an officer. The officer purposely put himself in that situation. He failed to use his warning signals and tried to surprise the suspects with NO backup. If anything, this officer is an idiot. 

Again, if the officer was in front of the Tahoe, then the officer is the one who escalated the situation b
y confronting suspects with no backup. And, if the officer was behind the Tahoe, he would not be in immediate danger. 

The entire situation could have been handled differentl
y had the officer responded more intelligently. We need officers who actually plan and coordinate capturing suspected criminals in an intelligent and reasonable manner instead of a hotshot trigger happy LONE police officer who  FORCES dangerous situations by assuming he can carry the full weigh of the law in his AR-15.

don.dodondo
don.dodondo

His death was indeed avoidable, if the idiot had just complied with the officer instead of trying to "smash" or "slam" him with his car he would still be alive today.

sexylove2012
sexylove2012

The bouy could have sole my car that means he should have been shot.

logicman
logicman

I'll summarize the story so people don't have to waste time reading it.- If you steal a vehicle and try to run over a cop you might get shot.  The end.

usmom1113
usmom1113

The officer had every right to shoot him, he was trying to use that car as a weapon. If the officer didn't shoot then the he would be dead. When a officer tells you to show your hands you do it, instead he tried to run the officer over. The passenger is lucky that he wasn't shot His family is no better if they are going to go protest while wearing shirts that say f__k the police, they all should be in jail.

pbear01
pbear01

If my son were shot by a police officer for the same reason, I would apologize to the officer for raising my son to act with such disregard for life as to put the officer in this situation in the first place. I have failed as a parent and owe the officer and society as a whole an apology.

loboco76
loboco76

Something bothers me about this article, and it's not what you probably think.  The kid was in a stolen vehicle.. but has anyone determined how he ended up there? The obvious implication is that he stole it, especially with a similar prior offense.  But this important piece is left out.     Why?   If not known at the time of publication, that should be specified.. otherwise I am left to guess why it was left out.  My best guess is that if this were a face to face robbery or a carjacking, this would not further the liberal "blame the police" or "OMG he used an assault rifle" agenda, and therefore was omitted on purpose.  

I have read the New Times for many years, and appreciate the reporting of many things most outlets do not care to touch.  I recognize the liberal bent, but feel this is just a bit much, even for this paper. 

May I ask the author to prove me wrong?

red.marcy.rand
red.marcy.rand

Lemons is an aptly named utter boob. This punk got exactly what he deserved.

Federale
Federale

Child of God?  Whoa there, how is it that armed robbery and auto theft get a "child of God (and with a capital G from a Red publication), but the "white" cop just gets labeled as white.  Is he not a child of God?  Can't you take his word for what happened concerning an encounter with a convicted criminal?  A convicted criminal with admittedly behavior problems.  Which also brings us to that.  When they are being sentenced, the criminal class also has its defenders with excuses.  But don't those excuses, serious substance abuse problems (crack will help you make bad decisions like trying to run down a cop) and substantial mental health issues, tend to show that this convicted criminal did not make good decisions, like not trying to run down a cop with a car?  

Typical "progressive" hypocrisy.  It is clear that Alexander Wilson, as well as his family, made bad decisions throughout their lives that ended up with the ultimate bad decision.  To every "progressive" journalist, a black thug is always innocent and the white cop who shot him always guilty.

sunstar_100
sunstar_100

REALLY!  DID YOU REALLY Write this pile of HATE!  What about the Officer-  He is a child of GOD too.  He felt his life was threaten and defended it.     When that kid attempted to flee instead of comply with the officers he made his choice.  Whether it was a a mistake to put the car in reverse or not...He still made the choice flee.   Just like the officer standing there to put his life on the line, so did this kid when he chose not to comply with officers.   It is sad and unfortunate that his family couldn't teach him to be more of a man and accept the punishment for his failures.  Perhaps if he had accepted the fact he would be arrested for being in a stolen car and been punished for that, he would be alive today.  What does RACE have to do with this.  Why does it even need to be mentioned.  It doesn't matter.  The facts are this kid was in a STOLEN CAR, and DIDN'T comply with officers.  In the process of fleeing the scene the car moved towards officers, and the officers opened fire in fear for their life.  It doesn't matter  what race the person was  behind the wheel and what race is of the officer who fired their weapon.  These are actions that any human can make and take.  WHY IS RACE still an issue here?  Why is is even brought up?  When are we going accept accountability for our own actions rather than find a reason to blame to someone else?  I feel for the family that they loss a member and of someone so young, it is truly heart breaking. HOWEVER, while it will bring little peace the His choices in life lead to the end of it, and nothing more.  I feel for the officer, who forever from this point forward try to make peace with the fact that he took a life, and a life of a Child who was so young.  To the author of this article, and to all those that thought it had any merit to print, I ask that you raise the social level of standards for the things you print.  The only merit this has is to promote HATE.  Hate for the police, hate based on race.  It is an unfortunate incident all around where should be asking ourselves as a society  "Why this kid was in a stolen vehicle?", "What are we teaching our youth?". " When are our young going to learn to take accountability for their actions?"  Race plays no part in it this.  See past the color of skin, and judge only the action if you must judge anything.  Move past HATE.  Spreading it will only get it. 



des10eefay
des10eefay

Stephen you are a narrow minded nit wit. You are reaching for facts that don't exist. You are not a journalist but a builder of lies, mistrust and hate. What about the civilian who busted his/her butt day in and out to pay for a Tahoe to now have it stolen damaged by a bunch of thugs. Every mile they drive is and $1 out of the owner's pocket. Sure no one wants to see a young life cut short but if it were me standing there I would have unloaded my AR in him not just a couple rounds. The officer stopped the threat as he was trained and for him I would rather be tried in court in front of a jury of 12 rather than carried to his grave by 9.

don.dodondo
don.dodondo

Just curious, if the Phoenix PD hasn't released the identity of the police officer than how exactly does NT know he is white?  This isn't journalism, this is propaganda.

bob_lablaw96
bob_lablaw96

Has anyone else noticed that this rag will only let you "like" comments that are anti Jaffy, or anti-cop for this story?  I do not have time to respond to every comment that gets my attention, so I try to hit the "like" button.  It is only active for certain comments.


Kinda blows a hole in their claim to fame as journalists, in my humble opinion.


By the way...I am kinda on the side of the cop in this case. The dumbassed kid had every chance to do the right thing when he was granted probation. He knew that missing an appointment meant a felony warrant for his arrest, but still got behind the wheel of a stolen car.


It seems to me that had this cop not shot him, some other cop would have, at some point.  The kid just did not have any moral grounding in his life.  It is a shame that he is dead, but a great day that the cop went home that night after his shift.

willrider
willrider

Cops are all cowards with guns. If he thought he was justified in shooting this stupid joy rider then he should show his face , see how long before they drop his ass

queenqaasim1
queenqaasim1

The idea that the truth will come out after the PPD report is a very big assumption. History shows that police murders of Black men in this country go almost always unpunished. The exception was Oscar Grant's murderer in Oakland, CA and it was precisely the "Fuck da Police" protesting that got justice.

maybeitsaGOPplot
maybeitsaGOPplot

why is the new times trying to attack my computer? they must be so hard up for money that they're accepting banner ads from any criminal organizations.

marcy
marcy

The owner of that Tahoe needs to sue the punk's parents for the damage the punk did to the stolen vehicle.  

Of course it might be difficult collecting since you can't garnish welfare checks.

ciaah1231
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spamola5
spamola5

This is why we teach are children do not mess with the police they are the ones with the Gun, in control.I have taught all of mine its Yes Sir No Mame.Have told them if the officer has done something that  not right we will deal with it later., The police can be trigger happy. Peace Officers all need to be wearing camera,s at all times. That unnecessary, court cases on discrimination, you will see the real story , how people can be treated by certain Peace Officer,s. You need to install in your children to respect the Peace Officers. Also  teach them there are bad , ones like teacher,s Priests,s  and not to be afraid to tell you'.. Some children  do not have that, could be with the wrong person at the wrong time, only 15 so very sad'

loboco76
loboco76

This was avoidable?  Yes it was.  Don't drive around in a stolen car.  And if requested by a (presumably uniformed) police officer to do something, then do it.  Always remember that the police officer has every reason to believe you're up to no good, especially when something is amiss like a stolen vehicle.  More than once I have read of a police officer making a routine traffic stop and getting his head blown off.   Keep such things in mind, give the officer the respect they deserve for getting up and putting themselves into harm's way so the rest of society can pretend to be civil, and...guess what... things like this don't happen.  That's how this was avoidable. 

This isn't to say he "deserved" what he got, but a certain amount of common sense and civility goes a long way when interacting with law enforcement...and with his "first adult felony" being an assault, plus drug posession charges, plus being the driver of a stolen vehicle...all before he could even vote....those things were evidently in short supply for young Mr Wilson.

And you can call him a child of god all you want, but it it was you he was robbing and placing in fear of your life, something tells me you'd have felt different at that point.

loboco76
loboco76

This was avoidable?  Yes it was.  Don't drive around in a stolen car.  And if requested by a (presumably uniformed) police officer to do something, then do it.  Always remember that the police officer has every reason to believe you're up to no good, especially when something is amiss like a stolen vehicle.  More than once I have read of a police officer making a routine traffic stop and getting his head blown off.   Keep such things in mind, give the officer the respect they deserve for getting up and putting themselves into harm's way so the rest of society can pretend to be civil, and...guess what... things like this don't happen.  That's how this was avoidable. 

This isn't to say he "deserved" what he got, but a certain amount of common sense and civility goes a long way when interacting with law enforcement...and with his "first adult felony" being an assault, plus drug posession charges, plus being the driver of a stolen vehicle...all before he could even vote....those things were evidently in short supply for young Mr Wilson.

And you can call him a child of god all you want, but it it was you he was robbing and placing in fear of your life, something tells me you'd have felt different at that point.

loboco76
loboco76

@ruca_88 I have to disagree with a couple of items in this post-- specifically the piece about rioting, and the piece about were the officer behind the Tahoe he'd not be in danger. All someone would have to do is put it in reverse in such a case.

Having said that though, my hat is off to you in that you do what practically no one else here (the author of the article included, and somewhat even myself) do... you look at it objectively.  Without playing the race card, without playing the "he was so young and innocent" card, and without playing the "blame the victim" card, you focus on the issue as it currently stands.  

While there is always something that could have been done differently, a IF the officer did not follow protocol, that should be looked at.  If protocol was insufficient, that should be looked at.  

It is ALWAYS a balance between the rule of law and a police state...and though we will never all agree on which side of the balance we are on, especially after an unfortunate event like this, there is room for improvement, and getting closer to that balance.  

giantmindllc
giantmindllc

@usmom1113 read it right the passenger even said they weren't trying to run him over the suspect accidently put the car in neutral revving the engine which scared the officer n he reacted out of fear and not training all said and done a young mans life was taken over what?

giantmindllc
giantmindllc

@pbear01 highly doubt that's how you'd react I bet if the kid was white from a "good" family all hell would be raised upon the Police Dept and state lawsuits filed media flooded with the story and pics

usmom1113
usmom1113

@des10eefay I agree with you, but there is no reason that the officer should even have to go to court, he did ecactly as he was trained to do, He saw a stolen vehicle and told them to get out they are the ones that decided they were going to try to kill the officer, They knew what they were doing and the consequences was he paid with his life, If they would have done as they were told everyone would be alive today. I just hate how everyone is going to start playing the damn race card. Why can't they just accept that a criminal got shot because they would not do as they were told?

Dogbiter
Dogbiter

Cause the cops said he was white. Duh! Even saw that on TV

Dogbiter
Dogbiter

You're obviously an idiot. Works fine for those of us with half a brain.

bob_lablaw96
bob_lablaw96

@willrider You are all hat and no cattle, will.  You would not have the guts to shoot a squirrel, much less a cop.  Drop the 'tude

stephen.lemons
stephen.lemons moderator writer

@queenqaasim1 Agreed. Folks need to demonstrate, or there will be no justice. As for the cop reports, it will at least be additional info, though taken with more than a grain of salt, given the source.

dontbotnetmebro
dontbotnetmebro

@maybeitsaGOPplot I think that you may be right, not about the GOP plot, but about the money part. The New Times lost the lucrative advertising of the whores on backpage and then they lost their leading distribution location, Circle K stores. Advertisers are likely running away in droves. I expect the New Times to file for chapter some number or another any day now. I don't know where I'll get my illegal alien sob stories when that happens. :(

marcy
marcy

@maybeitsaGOPplot 

And you visited the site just the same despite being warned that malware was present?

giantmindllc
giantmindllc

@marcy are such an ignorant person Racism will never end with people like you still alive not all black people are on welfare honey even ones living in the "hood" all races need govt. assistance not just blacks grow up n read a book

marcy
marcy

@ciaah1231 

You should be sorry for posting that rambling post advertising your schlock self-published trash.

marcy
marcy

@spamola5 

Also teach your children to not steal cars or rob people.

MotherJones
MotherJones

@loboco76 Robbing you with his finger? I think if a kid approaches me with his hand in his pants, I will not be handing over my cash, thankuverymuch.

loboco76
loboco76

@giantmindllc @usmom1113 First off, this was not a "car"--- it was an SUV.    An SUV has a much larger engine and a tougher steel frame & is capable of making a lot more damage than your average car.  Second, it ought to have been in park and the engine off.  I know when I get pulled over that's what I do!

Third, late model  vehicles cannot "accidentally" pop out of park-- you must hit the brake to get out of park.   It's been this way since the 80's. 

SO... this SUV is in neutral, (which it oughtn't have been) with the engine revving (which it oughtn't have been) and the dude is yelling "slam it" or "feelin to smash" (which....really? Either one is not the best thing to be yelling in this situation).  Sounds pretty bad so far.  

Then there is the question of exactly when the SUV popped from neutral into gear.  (police say before shot, passenger says after.)  Even if we go with the passenger's version. the remainder of the above sure as hell sounds like someone preparing to make a run for it... and keeping in mind the fact that this bull-in-a-china shop situation is happening in a gas station, there's a lot to go wrong with that scenario.

I'd say it is not that he forgot his training, but his training took over.

don.dodondo
don.dodondo

@giantmindllc @pbear01 BS  If the police pull you over and point a gun at you and you decide to "smash it" instead of just complying you deserve whatever you get, regardless of skin color.

don.dodondo
don.dodondo

@Dogbiter May I ask where?  I have been researching this story and I haven't found any outlet reporting that the officer is white.

bob_lablaw96
bob_lablaw96

@Dogbiter When the day comes that I look to you to decide who is an idiot, we are all lost.

The kid had several chances in his young, but dumb, life.  He chose the wrong answer each time. I am sorry for that, but not sorry enough to second guess the cop. I am glad that the right person lived to go home to a family.

don.dodondo
don.dodondo

@dontbotnetmebro @maybeitsaGOPplot LOL.  I was not aware Circle K had stopped allowing the New Times to be distributed there, but I checked online and found that they did that back in February.  Awesome, I am really happy to see this rag feel the pressure.  Once upon a time it was decent alternative/entertainment publication but over the last couple years it has just gone overboard with the propaganda.  Just look at the comments on most of their articles, I don't think I have ever seen a media outlet that is so despised by its own readers.

marcy
marcy

@dontbotnetmebro @maybeitsaGOPplot 

You'll have to resort to doing what your nutty buddies do, go down to Home Depot and start chasing the day laborers around with your baseball bat.

loboco76
loboco76

@MotherJones @loboco76 ...and actually, let me ask you this.  His prior was robbing not one not two but three people at once.  How do you think that happened?   Maybe they had it coming, because even with the three of them together they were too stupid to see that he "only had a finger" AND it was three against one?  

Or are you just that much more of a badass than the three of them combined?

loboco76
loboco76

@MotherJones @loboco76If you knew that, of course.  But if you didn't?  Then what?  If you are confronted by a thug who says to you "someone gonna get shot"... you going to ask him to see his gun?  Obviously the TWO people he stole from previously didn't think so...they handed over their keys wallet and phones, taking him at face value.  

Let me ask you this.  You get robbed by a thug-- whether he is indeed armed, or you just believe him to be armed.  Does that make your adrenaline rush any less?  Is it any less a traumatic experience?  Is your stuff any less stolen, your identity any less at risk because he has your driver's license and important papers?

How about if there IS a gun but you find out later it turns out to be unloaded...  would that make a difference in your world?   How about if there is a loaded weapon and it doesn't discharge?  

Fact is, unless there is a weapon present AND it discharges, which takes it to a whole new level, all of the above scenarios are the same.  

You are in fear of your life, as the thug wants.  Your world is turned upside down, as the thug wants, and your stuff is stolen, as the thug wants.  

There is no mitigating factor here.  

 
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