Boy killed by W. Memphis police wanted to be officer

12-year-old DeAntae Farrow
12-year-old DeAntae Farrow

12-year-old DeAntae Farrow who was shot to death by West Memphis police had dreams of becoming an officer himself, family members say, maintaining that the boy wasn't holding a toy gun at the time he was killed.

Farrow had just completed the sixth grade at Maddux Elementary School.

On Friday, Farrow was spending the night with a 14-year-old cousin at an apartment complex just south of interstates 40 and 50.

Assistant Police Chief Mike Allen said two officers on an unrelated stakeout in the apartment complex's parking lot saw two people running past them and yelling.

As officers got out of the car, they saw one of the people holding something that looked like a Glock pistol, the standard-issue handgun for the department, Allen said.

One of the two officers fired at the boy only after he made an "evasive action," Allen said. "I don't think the officer realized until after the shooting that this boy was as young as he was."

"He just had no idea," he added.

But family and friends believe the officer mistook DeAuntae for someone else.

"He had nothing," said Farrow's cousin Adrian Williams, who lives at the complex.

"I saw him with chips and a pop in his hand."

The boy's aunt, Katherine Townsend, remembered DeAuntae as "a good neighborhood kid."

"Believe it or not, he wanted to be a police officer," Townsend said. "It's pretty bad that his life was taken by a police officer."

The officer who shot DeAuntae has not been identified.

West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert reiterated the 12-year-old did have a toy gun.

"I saw it. It looked so authentic," he said.

The officer, who has been with the department for more than 10 years, was suspended with pay, pending an investigation.

Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said the state police were investigating the fatal shooting.

He did not provide further details, but said the findings would be turned over to the local prosecutor to determine if charges are warranted.

The West Memphis assistant police chief said he met Saturday morning with DeAuntae's mother, Debra Farrow, and a house full of other family members and friends.

But Townsend said DeAuntae's family remains skeptical of the police's version of what happened Friday night at the apartment complex, which is home to many children.

"These kids are 5, 6, 7, 8 years old and someone they know just got murdered. How do they deal with that and still have respect for the police?" Townsend asked. "The reach of the police, it goes a long, long way - but the truth do, too. This child is not going to die in vain."