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Tempe City Council approves $2 million settlement in Antonio Arce death

Posted at 6:39 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 14:27:19-04

TEMPE, AZ — The Tempe City Council has voted to approve a $2 million settlement in the shooting death of 14-year-old Antonio Arce.

On January 15, 2019, officers responded to a neighborhood near 48th Street and Baseline Road to investigate a reported suspicious vehicle. Officer Joseph Jaen was one of the first to arrive and observed Arce breaking into a vehicle.

When Jaen approached, police say Arce took off from the passenger side of the vehicle and started running down the alley with what appeared to be a gun. Police say Arce ignored Jaen's commands and continued running.

Police claimed Arce turned toward Jaen, causing him to perceive a threat and fire his weapon. The body camera video shows Arce never broke his stride while running down the alley and turning a corner.

Arce was found to have a replica model airsoft gun.

RELATED: Body camera video released that shows events surrounding Antonio Arce's death

Earlier this year, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said Officer Joseph Jaen was justified in shooting Arce. Jaen has since resigned from the Tempe Police Department, though the city said it was unrelated to Arce's death investigation.

Arce's family filed a $5,000,000 notice of claim in 2019 against Tempe police claiming that Arce was wrongfully shot and killed.

The Tempe City Council unanimously approved the settlement Thursday night.

A statement issued Thursday from Daniel R. Ortega, Jr. of Ortega Law Firm reads:

"Accountability. From the beginning, the family of Antonio Arce has been seeking justice and some measure of accountability. This has never been about money. No amount of money would replace the tragic loss of a child, nor would they see this as an opportunity for an economic windfall. The death of a child would inevitably cause the most serious, intense, long-lasting grief. The sudden, traumatic, and senseless nature of the incident only compounds the grief. It is commonly said, “a parent should never have to bury their child.” This is true regardless of the circumstances. It offends our sense of the natural order of things because it is the death of a future. Antonio Arce’s death cut short all that he embodied – his sense of adventure, fascination with the world, promise, and hope for a better future. His family will never experience a lifetime of anticipated joys. They will never see him marry; have children and grandchildren; celebrate holidays, anniversaries, or birthdays. His parents would rather pay to have their child returned to them than be forced to put a price tag on his life.

It is not uncommon for young Latinos and Blacks to die at the hands of law enforcement. As with other police shooting cases, the Arce family and the community are unjustifiably left in the dark for too long about whether there was an actual need to use excessive and ultimately deadly force. They are tragically left to grieve without answers about why their loved one was killed. To add insult to injury, prosecutors fail to charge police officers for their criminal conduct. All of this is unacceptable! All victims of police brutality deserve answers, accountability, and justice from law enforcement and elected officials.

Due to the history of being surveilled, profiled, and harassed by police in their own communities, Latinos and Blacks are too often scared of interactions with law enforcement. Frequently, people of color are seen as threats to police merely because of the color of their skin. There have been far too many tragedies, such as this one. This vicious cycle of distrust and death must end."