- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The New Jersey branch of the American Civil Liberties Union wants the state attorney general to release the names of the officers who shot and wounded a 14-year-old boy they say pointed a gun at them, arguing that the shooting raises concerns about excessive use of force.

The civil rights organization said in a letter sent to state Acting Attorney General John Hoffman on Wednesday, a day after investigators charged Radazz Hearns with aggravated assault and gun crimes after they say he pointed a gun at police during a foot chase in Trenton.

Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for Hoffman, said the office won’t release the three officers’ names. He said the office doesn’t release names of individuals under investigation who have not been charged with the crime.

Investigators are looking into whether the shooting was justified.

“In a matter such as this, the growing number of unanswered questions and absence of transparency can serve to exacerbate any distrust and division between community members and law enforcement,” reads the letter from ACLU-NJ Executive Director Udi Ofer, Legal Director Edward Barocas, and Public Policy Director Ari Rosmarin. “Absent a specific, particularized, and credible threat to the safety of the officers or their families, parents should not be left to wonder who shot their child.”

Law enforcement officers and witnesses said the boy pointed a .22-caliber handgun at the officers when two state troopers and a Mercer County sheriff’s officer began to chase him Aug. 7 in Trenton, the attorney general’s office said in a statement announcing the charges. The boy was charged with unlawful possession of a handgun, aggravated assault and possession of a defaced firearm.

Investigators said the gun was found the following morning under the tire of an emergency response vehicle near where the teen was running.

The teen has been released from a hospital and is recovering at home. A judge is expected to order him to appear in court once he’s medically cleared.

Defense attorney Samuel Anyan said he expects the teen to be fully exonerated “once all the evidence gathered is brought to light.” He previously said the boy was shot in the back of the legs and pelvis and faces “extensive rehabilitation.”

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