WEST MEMPHIS, AR - The federal Justice Dept. says West Memphis police committed no criminal violation of the civil rights of 12-year-old DeAuntae Farrow when an officer fatally wounded the boy. The department said in a letter to Police Chief Robert Paudert that the evidence does not support a violation but cautioned that other offices within the Justice Department could take action under separate enforcement authority.
DeAuntae was killed June 22 by a shot from the gun of Officer Erik Sammis. Officials say the boy was outside playing with a friend while police were in a car on a stakeout at an adjacent apartment complex. Police have said the boys ran by, yelling, and officers told them to stop. Police say Sammis fired when it appeared DeAuntae was holding a weapon and moved.
The officer told investigators he believed the youth was holding a gun. Police said the boy had a toy gun, but the boy's family has disputed that.
DeAuntae's death was also investigated by state police, and a special prosecutor is to decide whether to bring charges.