Family, Friends of Escondido Native Fatally Shot by Las Vegas Police While Holding Cellphone Mistaken For Gun Call for Justice - NBC 7 San Diego

Family, Friends of Escondido Native Fatally Shot by Las Vegas Police While Holding Cellphone Mistaken For Gun Call for Justice

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    Escondido Native Fatally Shot by Las Vegas Police

    Friends and family of Keith Childress say they want answers to why he was shot and killed by Las Vegas police on New Year’s Eve. NBC 7’s Liberty Zabala reports. (Published Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016)

     The family and friends of an Escondido native fatally shot by Las Vegas police while holding a cellphone that was mistaken for a gun are demanding justice for their loved one. 

     "They took somebody's son," said Gabriela Larios, friend of 23-year-old suspect Keith Childress, Jr., who was convicted last month of multiple crimes in Arizona including armed robbery and aggravated assault. "They took our friend. We just want to know what happened and we just want to know why!"

    The shooting occurred Thursday after Childress had been under surveillance and fled from federal authorities, Las Vegas police said in a statement.

    Childress was found outside a home west of downtown. Police said his right hand held what they believed to be a firearm.

    Officers told him to drop the gun and ordered him to stop when he began to move toward them. Police said two officers opened fire when Childress didn't obey their commands. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

    Police later said Childress was actually holding a cellphone.

    Police Capt. Matt McCarthy of the department's office of Internal Oversight and Constitutional Policing said the officers shot at the man because the confrontation was in a residential area and involved a man wanted for attempted murder who they thought was holding a gun.

    Reinhart said Childress' family wants answers and he plans to inquire into the shooting. He said the description from police makes it appear as though Childress wanted officers to shoot him.

    "That did not strike me as the type of guy he was. He had two kids and a kid on the way," Reinhart told the Associated Press.

    Larios said she is one of many who want answers, adding that there are "non-lethal ways to bring somebody down."

    "They paint him to be this horrible monster," Larios said. 

    "We don't get no answers, no apology," she said. 

    Las Vegas police identified the two officers who shot and killed Childress on Saturday. Thirty seven-year-old Sgt. Robert Bohanon and 27-year-old Officer Blake Walford are currently on routine administrative leave.

    Attorney Brad Reinhart last had contact with his client, Keith Childress Jr., 23, last month when a jury was set to issue a verdict in his trial for stealing marijuana and guns from a Phoenix home in 2013. Reinhart said he texted Childress to be at the courthouse, but he never showed up.

    "He didn't show up for the final hearing. They had a warrant out for him," Reinhart told the Associated Press.

    Las Vegas police said they were assisting U.S. marshals in arresting Childress because he was accused of multiple violent felonies in Arizona including attempted murder. Reinhart said while Childress' crimes were serious, they never included a charge of attempted murder.

    According to Maricopa County Superior Court records, a jury convicted Childress on Dec. 17 of burglary, armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault and theft.

    The Clark County Office of the Coroner identified Childress on Saturday and said he died from multiple gunshot wounds. His death was ruled a homicide.

    "He definitely got caught up in a bad situation," Reinhart said. "But, he wasn't a violent kind of guy."

    Meanwhile, his friend, Larios, is mourning the loss of her friend. 

    "I'm never going to see him again," she said. "I didn't get to say bye."

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