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What we know about the fatal police shooting of a 13-year-old boy in Utica, N.Y.

Police in Utica, N.Y., say an officer fatally shot a 13-year-old boy after a foot chase on Friday evening. Police say officers believed the boy brandished a handgun. Above, vehicles move along Genesee Street after a fresh snowfall, in Utica, N.Y., on Jan. 31, 2017.
Hans Pennink
/
AP
Police in Utica, N.Y., say an officer fatally shot a 13-year-old boy after a foot chase on Friday evening. Police say officers believed the boy brandished a handgun. Above, vehicles move along Genesee Street after a fresh snowfall, in Utica, N.Y., on Jan. 31, 2017.

Grief and anger engulfed the city of Utica, N.Y., after a police officer shot and killed Nyah Mway, a 13-year-old boy, on Friday night.

The Utica Police Department said the fatal shooting occurred amid a foot chase between Mway and three officers. The officers saw what they believed to be a handgun on Mway, according to a statement released by the department on Facebook. Mway, who graduated from middle school just two days earlier, was then tackled to the ground before an officer, later identified by police as Patrick Husnay, discharged his firearm. The weapon on Mway was later determined to be a pellet gun.

Efforts to contact relatives of Mway were unsuccessful, but on a GoFundMe page set up by his family he was remembered as "an outgoing kid who loved to be outside biking and playing." The family said he was "a good kid" who "has never gotten in trouble with law enforcement before."

Mway and his family came to the U.S. from Myanmar, also known as Burma, as Karen refugees over eight years ago, according to the GoFundMe page. Over the years, thousands of Karen refugees have settled in Utica to flee ethnic and religious persecution by the Myanmar government.

How the shooting unfolded

On Friday night, police officers patrolled the streets of West Utica to investigate a string of armed robberies in the area. The suspects were described as Asian males who carried a black firearm, police said.

Around 10 p.m., three officers stopped Mway and another 13-year-old boy outside on a street, believing the two boys fit the description of the robbery suspects, police said.

In body-camera footage released by law-enforcement, an officer asks to pat down Mway in search of a possible weapon, and Mway tries to run away. The officers followed.

In a statement, the police said the officers believed Mway was holding and pointing a firearm at the officers. In the body-camera footage, an officer yelled out "Gun!" and tackled Mway to the ground. Soon, all three officers appeared hovering over Mway. Roughly 15 seconds after the chase began, a shot was fired by police.

Screams from onlookers followed. One officer attempted to do chest compressions on Mway. He was later transported to Wynn Hospital where he died from his wounds.

Police said they recovered a replica of a Glock 17 Gen5 handgun with a detachable magazine on scene. It was later determined to be a pellet gun.

Police officers are put on administrative leave with pay

Utica Police identified the officers involved as Husnay, a six-year veteran of the Utica Police Department; Bryce Patterson, a four-year veteran; and Andrew Citriniti, who has been on the force for two-and-a-half years.

Police Chief Mark Williams said all three officers were put on administrative leave with pay.

Utica Police said an internal investigation has been launched. The New York State's Attorney General’s Office of Special Investigations will also investigate if the shooting violated any state laws.

On Saturday, the Utica police department said in a statement, "Our thoughts are with our officers involved, and the family of the deceased juvenile."

In a later statement on Saturday night, the department added, "It is our sincerest desire that at the conclusion of these investigations an impartial, fair, and thorough investigation will have been completed, giving answers to any remaining lingering questions."

Response from the community

At a news conference on Saturday, Utica mayor Michael P. Galime said transparency will be a priority.

"What happened yesterday evening in our community is an event that has become all too familiar and routine, over and over and over again,” he said.

Troves of family, friends and community members attended the conference, expressing their anger, grief and disbelief to the situation.

On Saturday, hundreds also gathered for a vigil in honor of Mway, bringing flowers, balloons and candles.

"We won't be satisfied until the murderers are put in jail," said Mway's older brother, The Daily Sentinel reported.

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Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.