Unarmed Teen Hector Morejon Shot Dead by Long Beach Police
All 19-year-old Hector Morejon wanted as he lay dying in an ambulance after being shot by Long Beach, California police last Thursday was to be with his mother. But like his entire future, that too was denied him.
Morejon was shot by an as-yet unidentified Long Beach officer who, according to the Los Angeles Times, believed the teen was pointing a gun at him as he responded to a trespassing and vandalism incident at a vacant apartment in the 1100 block of Hoffman Avenue.
The officer looked into the apartment and noticed a man standing against a wall before turning toward him. According to police, the man bent his knees and extended his arms “as if pointing an object, which the officer perceived was a gun,” prompting him to draw and fire his weapon.
“A weapon was not recovered from the scene,” a Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) press statement acknowledged.
“Objects were collected from the scene, but it has not been yet determined at this point in the investigation if those objects were what the officer observed,” LBPD spokeswoman Sgt. Megan Zabel told reporters. “We are not describing evidentiary detail on what those objects are at this time, as with how many times the suspect was shot.”
The victim’s mother, Lucia Morejon, was in her home when she heard gunshots. She rushed out into an alley to see what was happening and soon found her mortally wounded son laying in an ambulance. He was able to prop himself up when he saw her, uttering his final words:
“Mommy, mommy, please come, please come,” he pleaded.
“He was reaching for her—reaching out to her for help,” lawyer Sonia Mercado told The Huffington Post. “She identified herself as his mother, expecting to ride with him to the hospital, but they refused to let her in.” The teen was rushed to a local hospital in critical condition and was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
Mercado says Morejon still hears her dead son’s chilling final words five days after he was taken from her.
“It’s a tough thing to live with as a parent,” said Mercado. “She is deeply in shock.”
Four other suspects, two men and two women ages 20-22, were arrested in connection with the alleged trespassing and vandalism incident.
Morejon’s family is calling on the US Justice Department to investigate the deadly shooting. In a statement released on Monday, the family is also requesting LBPD “immediately release the name and badge number of the officer who is responsible for killing Hector.”
“We often find in these cases that evidence was lost or destroyed,” Mercado told the Huffington Post. “The public is entitled to know how this happened. Therefore, this investigation should go to an independent inquest by the Department of Justice or another police department.”
Mercado also lamented the lack of transparency shown by LBPD.
“The only thing [they have provided us with] is the same worn out excuse—’I thought I saw a gun,'” she said, adding that “the family is very concerned and wants justice and accountability.”
Forty-one people have been shot and killed by Long Beach police since 2000, according to the Los Angeles Times‘ Homicide Report. Long Beach, America’s 36th largest city, has a population of about 470,000. It is located 24 miles (39 km) south of downtown Los Angeles.