Unarmed 14-Year-Old Radazz Hearns Shot 7 Times by Police

August 14th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

Radazz Hearns, a 14-year-old Black teen, was walking with two friends in Trenton, New Jersey, when an unmarked police van cut them off around 10:20 PM on August 7. Three officers exited the vehicle, and Hearns ran, according to authorities. A State Police trooper then shot the unarmed boy seven times in the lower extremities.

Hearns was taken to a local hospital where he remains in stable condition. To date, he has not been charged with any crimes; the Attorney General's office is currently investigating the police-involved shooting.

Hearns' lawyer, Samuel A. Anyan Jr., said that the officers were responding to reports of gunfire in the area. Two of them attempted to stop Hearns, but he ran—possibly out of confusion. "It did not appear that they [the boys] knew who these individuals were who were stopping them," Anyan told ATTN:. "So Mr. Hearns begins to run, and he gets shot while fleeing."

"An investigation is still ongoing," he added, and the teen's family is waiting for the results of that investigation to be released before taking any further action. Based on eyewitness reports, however, it seems that the incident was avoidable.

Rhonda Tirado was sitting outside of her home and watched as the van pulled up to the group. She told the Times of Trenton that the officers appeared "amped and didn't give that little boy a chance."

"There was no room for no chase. They just shot that little boy right there. I don't think those little boys had no clue what was going on. I think they was at the wrong place at the wrong time.''

Other witnesses have reported seeing one officer throw up his hands, apparently in disbelief after one of the other responding officers unloaded his weapon on the boy. "Why they have to shoot me?" Hearns reportedly cried out.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General's office declined to say how many shots were fired by the State Police trooper, but reports suggest that the officer discharged at least 10 bullets. Two State Police troopers involved in the incident have been put on administrative leave.

"It is tragic to see any young person injured by gunfire, so I am deeply relieved at reports that Radazz is in stable condition, and I pray for his speedy and full recovery," New Jersey Rep. Watson Coleman said in a statement on Thursday. "Moving forward, I am committed to uncovering the details of this shooting, and I look forward to facilitating conversations between law enforcement and our community to shed light on these events."

According to the Washington Post, there have been at least 604 people shot dead by police this year, 24 of whom were Black and unarmed. Black Lives Matter activists have routinely stressed the importance of taking action to prevent these incidents, repair police-community relations, and enact legislation that promotes racial justice in light of countless tragedies, only some of which have been covered by the mainstream media.

As for Hearns, Black rights advocates say that they are at least relieved that this shooting did not result in the death of a 14-year-old child.

Hearns' lawyer said that he expects the officers to account for "why they were trying to execute a 14-year-old boy."

"You don't have the right to be judge, jury, and executioner," Anyan added.