TEMPE, Ariz. - The Tempe City Council voted to approve a $2 million payout to the family of Antonio Arce, the 14-year-old who was shot in the back in January 2019.
The Jan. 15 fatal shooting happened when Tempe Police officers responded to an alleyway near the 4500 block of South Fair Lane in the afternoon for a suspicious vehicle report.
Police say they saw a suspect burglarizing a car and eventually a chase took place, an officer felt threatened and open fire, hitting Arce and killing him.
The weapon that was in Arce's possession was later determined to be a replica 1911 model airsoft gun.
Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell released a statement on the settlement saying, “My Council colleagues approved this settlement with the Arce family tonight because the City of Tempe recognizes that former Officer Jaen’s actions were wrong ... We know that the Arce family is left with the devastation of losing a son and a family member – and nothing the city can do to compensate the family will bring back Antonio or fill the void the family is feeling. We wish the Arce family peace as they continue to grieve and heal.”
The family released a press statement on June 26 explaining that no amount of money could compensate for the loss of Antonio's life.
"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 statement read. "His parents would rather pay to have their child returned to them than be forced to put a price tag on his life."
In the statement, the family says that they sought accountability and justice - and they say they did not achieve either.
"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," the statement read. "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."
The officer who killed Arce, Joseph Jaen, would later resign from the department and was not charged in his death.
If Jaen was still an officer, Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir says he would have been suspended or even fired for violating department policy. "Code of Conduct that says the employee failed to comply with the department's Use of Force Guidelines," Moir said. "His actions were not aligned with our values. He actions deviated from our training."
The Tempe Police Department released a statement at the time of the unfolding events.
"The Tempe Police Department would like to express our deepest condolences to the Gonzales family. We are committed to conducting a thorough investigation and will be able to present more information on this incident tomorrow. In regards to the protest, we support and respect those who chose to peacefully share their concerns."
Protests broke out in the valley, calling for justice in Arce's death.
"Why? Why God? Why did you take away our son, who was barely beginning to live his life?" his mother said, in Spanish. "He was so young. God why? God why?"