here's the latest from our local paper
[link to www.commercialappeal.com
Family looks for truth behind child's killing
June 25, 2007
The family of a 12-year-old killed by West Memphis Police wondered Sunday how the officer who shot him could have mistaken their baby-faced boy for an armed robber.
Even if DeAuntae Farrow had a toy gun in his hand. And they don't believe he did.
"If you are not able to tell the difference between a child and a grown person, you shouldn't be on the police force," said the boy's father, Robin Perkins.
"And I have never known him to play with toy guns," he said.
Because of conflicting stories about what happened Friday night at the Steeplechase apartments at Goodwin and 24th in West Memphis, the family was reluctant to speculate on the facts.
However, Perkins said the boy was carrying a CD player and a soft drink in his hands when he was shot, and was no more than 15 feet away from the officer who shot him. "I don't see how he could be holding a toy gun, unless he grew a third hand," Perkins said.
West Memphis Asst. Chief Mike Allen, reached Sunday night, recalled the 1998 Jonesboro school shootings in which boys aged 11 and 13 killed five.
"The sad reality of life is that children do possess and use firearms," Allen said. "I don't think the officers are going to be able to say, split second, 'We're not going to react to this because this person looks younger than someone who could kill someone.'"
Police said two officers were on surveillance Friday night on an unrelated matter when they saw the child.
Chief Bob Paudert said Saturday that the child had a toy pistol that looked like the real thing. "And the officer saw it and fired two shots."
The case has been referred to the Arkansas State Police for investigation. The officer, a 10-year veteran, has been placed on routine suspension with pay, and has not been identified.
"They are supposed to be here to serve and protect, not to kill," said City Councilman Marco McClendon, who represents the area where the shooting happened about one block south of Interstate 40 at Ingram.
"I was not here, and there are conflicting stories," he said. "But my opinion is it was a rush-to-judgment shooting."
The officers were in street clothes, and did not identify themselves, McClendon said.
"We need justice," said DeAuntae's cousin, Cordell Williams. "They're trying to cover up something. We'll get to the bottom of it."
Allen met with the boy's family on Saturday.
"It was just to give our condolences to the family," he said. "It is a tragedy, what occurred. There's no other way to describe it."
The child's family said they were hopeful, but not optimistic, that the truth would come out.
Between periods of silence Sunday, Perkins described his son as a quiet and shy.
"He knows not to be disrespectful to police," he said.
The boy's aunt, Katherine Townsend, said DeAuntae was killed by the very people he wanted to emulate.
"He said he wanted to be a police officer. Unfortunately, the police took him out," Townsend said.
Staff reporter Jody Callahan contributed to this story.