Las Vegas police say suspect killed as phone mistaken for gun

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 02, 2016 12:03 PM

(Reuters) - Las Vegas police are investigating the killing of a wanted man who was shot dead earlier this week by two officers who mistook his cellphone for a gun, authorities said on Saturday.

Keith Childress Jr., 23, died from multiple gunshot wounds and his death was ruled a homicide, the Clark County Coroner's Office said.

Federal agents were tracking the suspect when he was shot in a residential neighborhood of Las Vegas at about 2 p.m. on Thursday, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement. Police said Childress was sought for attempted murder and other violent felonies in Arizona.

A spokesman for the suspect's attorney Brad Reinhart said Childress had been convicted in December of burglary, armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault and theft in Maricopa County, Arizona, but never been accused of attempted murder.

Las Vegas police did not immediately return a call seeking a response to the spokesman's comment.

Two police officers, responding to a request for help from the U.S. Marshals Service, found the suspect outside a house. They repeatedly ordered him to drop what they thought was a firearm in his right hand and to stop moving toward them, police said.

"At one point the officers told the suspect not to advance on the officers. However, the suspect did not listen, concealing his right arm, which the officers believed was holding a firearm," Captain Matt McCarthy of Las Vegas police told reporters.

The officers fired, shooting the man several times and killing him.

"During the course of the investigation, we have learned that the object was a cellphone," McCarthy said.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Helen Popper and Franklin Paul)