What we know about the fatal police shooting of a 13-year-old boy in upstate New York

NEW YORK (AP) — Police in upstate New York tackled and then shot a 13-year-old boy to death after he pointed what turned out to be a BB gun at officers during a foot chase.

Utica officials released body camera footage of Friday night's shooting on Saturday and held a contentious public meeting attended by the teen's family and other members of their local refugee community.

The state attorney general’s office is investigating and the police officers involved have been placed on leave, as is protocol during such shootings.

Here’s what you need to know.

What happened?

The shooting happened at around 10 p.m. on a residential street in Utica, an old industrial city about 240 miles (400 kilometers) northwest of Manhattan that sits along the Mohawk River at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains.

According to police, three officers on patrol stopped to question two youths. One of the teens, Nyah Mway, then fled on foot and pointed what police say appeared to be a handgun in the direction of the officers. After tackling the teen to the ground, one of the officers fired a single shot into his chest. The teen was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Who was the victim?

Mway, whose family name is Nyah, was a Karen refugee born in Myanmar. He had just graduated from middle school and was set to start high school in the fall.

His anguished relatives and other members of the local Karen community have called for police to be held accountable for what they view as an unjust killing, as Mway was already subdued and on the ground when he was shot.

The teen's family said Monday they were waiting for the medical examiners’ office to release his body so they could make funeral arrangements. The Onondaga County Health Department said the cause and manner of death are still pending and the autopsy report hasn't been made public.

Mway's cousin Lay Htoo told The Associated Press that the family had come to the U.S. for education and good jobs in the hopes of living a peaceful life after decades of strife and violence in Myanmar, which is gripped by civil war.

Who are the officers?

Police have released the names of the three officers who were involved in the incident, saying they are assigned to a crime prevention unit. Patrick Husnay, a six-year veteran of the department, was the officer that shot the boy.

Bryce Patterson, who has been on the police force for four years, and Andrew Citriniti, a two-year department veteran who previously served with the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, were the other officers involved.

All three remain on paid administrative leave, which is standard in police-involved shootings, Lt. Michael Curley, a department spokesperson, confirmed Monday.

What does the body camera footage show?

The videos released late Saturday show a chaotic scene.

In the footage, an officer says he needs to pat down the two teens standing on a sidewalk to ensure they don’t have any weapons. One bolts down the street appearing to hold a dark object while he runs away.

The officers scream “gun!” before one of them tackles him and punches him. Another officer opens fire as the two wrestle on the ground.

Bystanders can be heard screaming at the police throughout the recordings. At one point, an officer yells back: “We’re trying to save him right now!”

What weapon was brandished?

Police say the BB or pellet gun Mway pointed closely resembled a Glock 17 Gen 5 handgun with a detachable magazine.

The department released images showing the device did not have an orange band on the barrel that many BB gun-makers have added in recent years to distinguish their products from real firearms.

What have officials said?

Police Chief Mark Williams said the officers stopped the teens because they matched the description of the suspects in recent robberies in the area.

He said the suspects in those cases were Asian males — one walking and the other on a bicycle — who brandished a black firearm.

Mayor Michael Galime spoke Saturday and met privately with the family. He also addressed the Karen community during a contentious meeting Sunday at a local church, rejecting suggestions that the shooting showed prejudice.

“What I witnessed on the bodycam footage and all of the reports I read leading up to that incident, there was no reference or any indication that there was any racism,” Galime told the crowd.

Michael Gentile, his chief of staff, declined to elaborate Monday, saying the mayor was "asked a direct question in regard to racism, and he gave a direct answer that has not changed.”

What is the Karen community?

Karens are an ethnic minority that are among the groups warring with the military rulers of Myanmar, which was formerly known as Burma.

Utica, a city of more than 65,000 residents, is home to more than 4,200 people from Myanmar, according to The Center, a nonprofit that helps to resettle the refugees.

They’re among thousands of refugees from various countries who have settled in the area in recent decades and who now make up more than 20% of the faded Rust Belt hub's population, by some estimates.

What’s next?

State Attorney General Letitia James’ office is conducting a review to determine if the police department's use of force was justified, as is standard in police shootings.

Her office said Monday that its investigation was ongoing and that it couldn’t provide a timeframe for when it would be complete.

The police department is conducting its own investigation to see whether the officers followed the proper procedures, policies and training.

Curley said Monday that any additional details about the criminal investigation into the shooting will come from James’ office.


Associated Press radio reporter Julie Walker contributed to this report.


Follow Philip Marcelo at twitter.com/philmarcelo