Prosecutors: Police Killing of 15-Year-Old Virginia Boy Appears Justified

"There comes a point in time when police have to do what they have to do, and this is one of those occasions," the county's top prosecutor said

An officer's fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy in Haymarket, Virginia, on Friday appears justified, police and prosecutors in Prince William County say. 

An officer shot and killed Ruben Urbina after he threatened officers with a 3-foot-long crowbar, officials said in new accounts of the encounter. 

"Always tragic when a young person loses his life, and this is no exception," Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert told News4 early Tuesday. "Everybody is concerned about a young person's death. But there comes a point in time when police have to do what they have to do, and this is one of those occasions." 

Urbina's parents said the officer should be held accountable for killing her child. His father, Oscar Urbina, called the killing "murder" and said his son posed no threat.

"Just a little, tiny kid," he said outside his home on Tuesday. 

"This is a murder. My kid was taken from us for no reason at all," he continued.

"I just want justice. Justice. Justice," the teen's mother said through tears Monday night. "He's just a little kid."

At a news conference Tuesday morning, Ebert released new details about the final moments of the high school student's life. 

A Prince William County officer fired two shots at him after he called 911 and said he had a bomb and that he was holding his family against their will, Ebert said. 

When he called 911 at about 10:45 a.m., "he indicated if he was shot by police, he'd be alright with [that]," Ebert said at a news conference Tuesday morning.  

Officers responded to the house on the 6800 block of Hartzell Hill Lane about 13 minutes later. 

Outside, Urbina was beating his brother's 18-year-old girlfriend with the crowbar, the chief prosecutor said. In the past, she had been able to "settle him down when he became agitated," Ebert said, describing "mental health issues." 

Then, he "brandished a crowbar and began walking toward the officers in a threatening manner," police said in a statement. 

The officers ordered Urbina to drop the crowbar, but he refused and got within 10 feet of the officers, police say. 

Then, Officer Robert Choyce opened fire, shooting the teen twice in the upper body about 11:05 a.m., seven minutes after officers arrived. 

Urbina's father was away from home, in Mexico, but other family members saw the shooting.  

Officers provided first aid until medics arrived. Urbina was pronounced dead at the scene. 

No officers were hurt. Urbina's brother's girlfriend, who Urbina allegedly beat with a crowbar, was hospitalized for serious injuries to her head and back and later released. 

Police determined that Urbina did not have a bomb. 

"Our family's been destroyed," his father said. 

"I don't know if I'm going to be able to go to work," he continued. "It knocks me down -- the reality that my son is not here." 

Police learned after the shooting that Urbina had tried to kill himself the previous night but that the family did not call for help, Ebert said. 

Choyce, the officer who fired is on administrative leave, per standard police procedure. The 35-year-old with seven years on the force is assigned to the Tactical Training & Response Unit. He had never previously been involved in a police-involved shooting, police said.  

Prince William County Police Chief Barry Barnard called Urbina's death a tragedy but said the officer was correct to fire his weapon. 

“As we continue to evaluate this incident, it seems at this stage in our administrative investigation, the officer acted appropriately in response to dynamic circumstances," he said in a statement. "This is undoubtedly a tragedy, and we recognize the loss of this life is extremely difficult for the family and our community.

Officers are often placed in situations where they are forced to make critical decisions quickly based on limited information. This shooting was traumatic for the officers involved, and we ask for continued support from our community as we move forward.”

Oscar Urbina, the teen's father, said he forgives the officer who fired. 

"I woke up at 5 in the morning and wrote a letter of forgiveness for a person I don't even know who took my kid. I forgive him," he said through tears. 

The police department's Office of Professional Standards will continue "an independent administrative investigation" into the shooting, the police department says. 

Police body cameras are not in use in Prince William County, but a pilot program to put them onto streets is underway. 

Images taken from Chopper4 on Friday afternoon showed many officers in the Northern Virginia neighborhood of brick townhouses. 

Urbina's funeral is scheduled for Wednesday. 

Contact Us