Family of Purcellville teen killed by police demands answers - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Family of Purcellville teen killed by police demands answers

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Christian Sierra Christian Sierra

The family of a Purcellville teen killed by police want answers. They believe he didn't have to die. Police were called for help Saturday afternoon because 17-year-old Christian Sierra was suicidal. Instead, an officer shot him dead.

His parents say he was crying out for help and that police were too quick to shoot and kill.

"I woke up this morning thinking this was a nightmare and I went to his room and he wasn't there," said his mother Sandra Sierra.

She knows in her mind but not her heart that Christian is dead. She had heard about the police shooting on Frazer Drive and knew her son had friends there. She called police to see if they had any information. Police called back later to tell her the news.

"No, you cannot tell me what I already know," she told the officer. "You cannot tell me that 17-year-old is my son."

A few minutes later, she pulled up to her house where several police cars were waiting.

"I banged on their car and I'm like, ‘You killed my kid. You killed my kid,’" she yelled at them.

His family said Christian was depressed, but not violent. He was at a friend's house and became suicidal. So they called 911 for help.

When Purcellville police arrived, he was armed with a knife. According to a witness, Christian came around the corner followed by a friend begging him to drop the knife. He had already harmed himself.

The witness heard him say, "I don't want to live anymore." Christian collapsed on the ground and then got up and turned toward police. That's when he was shot.

"The four gunshots, it's just too much. Excessive. Excessive. Why four?" asked Christian's mother.

What continues to gnaw at the family is whether officers could have handled this differently. Was the officer who fired properly trained for someone who is suicidal? Did he have a Taser that could have been used instead? What was the role of the other officers on the scene? The family can't understand how this could have happened.

"They're supposed to come to help and stop the suicide and they came and killed him," said Natalie Moriarty, Christian's aunt.

Police say Christian lunged at the officer with the knife. Virginia State Police are investigating.

In a statement, Purcellville Police Chief Darryl Smith said, "My department is fully cooperating with the state police. In accordance with department policy, the officer involved in this shooting has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation."

Virginia State Police say once the investigation is complete, the investigative report will be turned over to the Commonwealth's Attorney for review and final adjudication.

"We just want the truth and nothing but the truth," said Eduardo Sierra, the victim's father.

Christian's family says he felt alone, like he had no friends. A makeshift memorial near the shooting scene with flowers and candles says otherwise. To honor him, friends tie-dyed some 70 shirts to wear to school Tuesday because that's what Christian liked to wear. His parents say he had his struggles, but was a good kid.

"This was an injustice,” insisted his mother. “This was not handled properly. My son could have been saved.”

The family just wants answers, but says so far, they haven't gotten any. Christian's parents weren't even allowed to see him at the hospital, they were told, because of the investigation.

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