WASHINGTON — Authorities in Prince William County, Virginia, indicated at a news conference Tuesday morning that the Sept. 15 fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy who brandished a crowbar at officers was justified.
Authorities said the teen, described by Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert as “mentally distraught,” called 911 to report he had a bomb strapped to his chest and was holding family members hostage inside the family home in the 6800 block of Hartzell Hill Lane in Haymarket.
When police arrived on the scene about 10:45 a.m., officers witnessed the teen striking his brother’s girlfriend with a 3-foot-long crowbar in front of the home’s garage, Ebert said. The teen advanced on officers with the crowbar raised over his head, refused to follow officer’s commands to drop the crowbar and was less than 10 feet away from officers when he was shot twice in the upper body, Ebert said.
Ebert said police “followed police protocol in that regard. They told him what he was supposed to do and refused to obey them.”
Ebert added: “He’s got a jacket on. He tells police that he has explosives strapped to his body. Trying to use some kind of force under those circumstances other than lethal force wouldn’t be probable.”
The teen has not yet been identified.
Prince William County Police Chief Barry Barnard called the shooting a tragedy for the family and said police are still conducting their own internal investigation into the shooting.
“Our findings at this time in the police department is that the use of force in this occasion was within our guidelines, within our policies.”
The commonwealth’s attorney’s said the teen had tried to commit suicide by hanging the night before police were called to the home but that not reported to authorities.
The police chief described the four officers who responded to the Haymarket home as “very experienced.”
Barnard said the shooting was not captured on body camera footage, because the department has only begun rolling out body-worn cameras this month and none of the officers involved were equipped with them.
WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.
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