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New details emerge in police shooting of 13-year-old New York boy

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(UTICA, N.Y.) — As the family of a 13-year-old boy who was killed by police in Utica, New York, demanded justice, the city’s police chief alleged Monday that the teenager had a realistic-looking replica gun still in his hand when he was shot.

The boy, identified as Nyah Mway, was shot once in the chest by a Utica police officer on Friday night after he and a friend were stopped on a street by officers investigating a robbery pattern, officials said.

“This is very heartbreaking for the family because they lost a child,” Mway’s uncle, Lay Htoo, told ABC News, adding that his nephew recently graduated from the eighth grade.

Htoo said the shooting has devastated his family, who moved to Utica eight years ago after escaping civil unrest in Myanmar and spending time in a refugee camp in Thailand.

He said the family came to America to avoid violence only now to be confronted by it.

Htoo questioned why police shot his nephew after he had been thrown to the ground by an officer and, based on video recorded by a bystander and posted on social media, punched.

“They don’t really have to take out their guns and shoot him,” said Htoo, adding that he thinks police could have used a stun gun on his nephew.

But Utica Police Chief Mark Williams said investigators reviewed the police body camera video frame by frame and discovered the officers had reason to fear for their safety.

“We were able to break down those images you saw of a person with a gun. In one of those images that we found is when he [Mway] was on the ground he still had the gun in his hand,” Williams said in an interview with ABC affiliate station WSYR in Syracuse.

Williams added, “Despite our efforts to be transparent, people weren’t ready for the facts, and I can appreciate that. All they see is a dead 13-year-old and nobody feels good about it.”

The three officers were identified by the department as Patrick Husnay, a six-year-veteran of the force; Bryce Patterson, a four-year veteran of the department; and Andrew Citriniti, who joined the force two-and-a-half years ago after serving as a Oneida County Sheriff’s deputy.

Husnay is the officer who shot and killed Mway, according to police officials.

Williams said the incident marked his department’s first fatal officer-involved shooting since September 2022.

The chief said he is now concerned for the safety of the officers involved in the fatal incident, particularly Husnay.

“Within less than 12 hours, people were posting images of his photo, his home address,” said Williams, adding that the police department is providing protection for the officers.

The shooting unfolded just after 10 p.m. ET on Friday in a west Utica residential neighborhood.

At the time of the incident, Husnay, Pattetson and Citriniti — members of the police department’s Crime Prevention Unit — were assisting in the investigation of at least two recent robberies involving suspects described as Asian males who brandished a black in color firearm at victims, according to a police statement.

Williams said police have not confirmed if Mway and his friend were involved in the robberies.

“Based on the listed identifying factors from the robbery, officers approached Nyah Mway and the other juvenile as they matched the robbery suspects’ descriptions and were in the immediate vicinity of the previous robbery at nearly the same time of day,” according to the police statement.

Police justified the stop, saying that one of the boys was walking in the roadway where sidewalks are provided, a violation of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law.

According to publicly released police body camera footage from all three officers involved in the incident, Patterson approached Mway on the sidewalk and asked him to take his hands out of his pockets. The footage showed Mway holding up his hands and then putting them back in his pockets, prompting Patterson to repeat his order.

“Can I pat you down [to] make sure you have no weapons on you?” Patterson asked Mway, the body camera video shows.

But before Patterson could search Mway, the teen bolted to his left and began running down the street with Patterson and the other two officers chasing him, according to the video.

The footage seemed to show Mway turn around and allegedly point a gun at Patterson and the other officers. The officers can be heard on the video yelling that Mway had a gun and repeatedly ordered him to “drop it!”

Mway appeared to trip and fall to the ground and as he tried to get back up, Patterson grabbed him and tackled him, according to body camera footage.

“He pulled it on me. He turned around just like this,” Patterson later told a supervisor, demonstrating how Mway allegedly aimed a gun at him, according to his body-worn camera footage.

As Patterson was on top of Mway wrestling with him, Husnay drew his weapon and fired, hitting the teenager in the chest, according to the video and the police statement.

As officers began to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Mway, Husnay is seen in the body-camera footage recovering a gun he initially identified as a black Glock 22 handgun lying in the grass next to where Mway fell.

Police later said the gun was a replica Glock 17 pellet gun. Williams said Monday that the gun looked like the real handgun and even had the word Glock printed on it.

During an interview at the scene with a supervisor, Husnay said he was the only officer to fire his weapon. He said he discharged “one round straight towards the ground,” according to his body camera video which stayed on as he was being questioned.

“Is it possible the suspect fired rounds at you?” the police supervisor asked Husnay, according to the video.

Husnay responded, “I don’t know.”

Mway was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Williams said the three officers involved in the incident are on paid administrative leave, which is routine for officer-involved shooting investigations.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James said her agency’s Office of Special Investigation is conducting an independent investigation of the shooting.

The shooting immediately drew an angry response from the community. A large crowd attending a vigil for Mway on Saturday, and chanted “No justice, no peace.”

Williams conceded that the shooting has damaged the trust his police department has established over the years with the Karen ethnic minority community in the Utica area, estimated to be about 8,000 strong. He said he hopes to restore that trust by being as transparent about the incident as possible.

“Justice doesn’t happen as swiftly as we all would like it,” Williams said Monday, adding that the probe by the state Attorney General’s Office could take up to a year. “There has to be an investigation. We have to be partial to all the information, not just one video that was put out there.”

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