A look at court and police records shows a fuller portrait of Alexander Wilson, a kid shot by a DPS officer more than a week ago at a west Phoenix Chevron gas station.
A press release sent to Valley media says Wilson was wanted on a warrant for armed robbery, but Wilson used no actual weapon to commit the crime, and the warrant was issued because he missed a probation hearing, according to records.
Wilson, barely 16, had problems with substance abuse, had been prescribed various medication to help deal with mental problems, and had a difficult upbringing, because "his father spent a substantial period in prison," and "the male influences outside his home in his neighborhood were not positive role models," according to a report.
In the eyes of the law, whether Wilson had a real weapon or pretended to have one didn't matter. But the judge factored all of this in, and sentenced Wilson to time served and probation.
That original robbery happened on an August night in the summer of 2012, when Wilson approached three men playing music at a park. Wilson hid his hand in his waste-band. Implying he was armed, he said, "Someone's gonna get shot. Where's the keys? Give me your wallets and phones." The men handed everything over, and Wilson drove away in a 2012 Chevy Malibu owned by one of the suspects.
Police caught up with Wilson in a motel parking lot after he was seen driving the Malibu, and officers found the stolen phones and wallets in the car.
But the DPS officer who shot Wilson didn't know any of this at the time. The man with eight years of law enforcement experience didn't know if Wilson and his passenger, Will Brown, 18, were armed or not. All he could have known that Sunday more than a week ago, is that the car had been reported stolen.
It was less than a minute between when they stopped and when Wilson died, Brown says. Maybe only long enough for Wilson to put the car in park, think for a few moments, and say, "I'm feelin' to smash," three times. (The police report says Brown told investigators that Wilson said he was going to "slam it." The only reason this is odd, is if Wilson wanted to "slam" the DPS vehicle he would have to hit the squad car in reverse, and then pull forward to escape on the road. Brown says "feelin' to smash" means to get the hell out of here.)
Brown says the windows on the vehicle had a pretty good tint, and they never rolled them down and never heard any commands from the officer. The next thing the two noticed was the flashlight on the bottom of the officer's AR-15 rifle beaming into the driver's side window. Brown says the officer stood to the side of the vehicle, using the metal blue clothes depository box as cover.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The box is several feet from where Brown says they would have been parked, and if the officer was using it as cover and never moved from the side of it like Brown says, then the officer would have been perpendicular to the car the entire time and in seemingly no apparent danger of being run over.
It was soon after they noticed the officer's light, Brown says, that Wilson tried to put the car into drive and take off. But Wilson accidentally geared it into neutral and the engine revved. A loud bang sounded, the window broke, and the car popped into drive and took off with Wilson now dead, and Brown grabbing at the steering wheel to control it.
Wilson bailed from the car and ran from the scene. But he later turned himself in and police interrogated and released him.
The police report sent to media differed in a few respects. After he parked behind the Tahoe, the police report