In its last police-involved shooting of the year, officers of the Las Vegas police department shot and killed a man convicted of several violent felonies, thinking he was threatening them with a gun when he was in reality holding a cell phone.
Police shot Keith Childress Jr., 23, on December 31 while assisting U.S. Marshals in his apprehension. Authorities say that Childress was being sought for multiple violent felonies in Arizona, including attempted murder.
Childress was convicted on December 17 in a Maricopa County court of burglary, armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault, and theft.
Police were searching for Childress because he didn’t show up to the court date to witness his conviction, so a warrant was issued for his arrest.
But weeks after his conviction, Childress was shot by Vegas police who thought he was wielding a gun when they confronted him. Authorities, though, later admitted the convict had a cell phone in his hand, not a gun. His death was ruled a homicide.
The suspect had been under surveillance after fleeing federal authorities. He was tracked to a home west of downtown Las Vegas.
Officers assumed he was holding a gun and ordered the suspect to drop it. When he did not move to comply, officers opened fire.
“The suspect did not listen, quickly began to advance on the officers, concealing his right hand, which the officers believed was holding a firearm,” Vegas Police Capt. Matt McCarthy told the media.
Family members of the deceased suspect, though, insist that Vegas officers murdered Childress.
“I’m at a loss for words right now. Really–I just want the truth. I want justice for my son,” the suspect’s mother, Danielle Steagall, said.
Steagall said that her son was in Vegas to visit his uncle and that police overreacted.
“The U.S. Marshals know exactly what his charges are. They know what’s going on with him is false. They lied,” Steagall said.
The woman added that she wants a full investigation of the shooting.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com