An Avenues boy shot twice by police last week had no intention of shooting the officer, the teen's attorney said Monday.
But the family of the 15-year-old understands why the shooting occurred and holds no malice against the officer, said attorney Brad Rich.Wednesday, Salt Lake police officer Bryan Johnson shot Christopher Calderon after Johnson confronted the boy and two other teens returning to a suspicious vehicle parked near 910 E. Harvard Ave. Police said the three had been burglarizing vehicles.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 240-pound teen pulled out a gun stolen just hours earlier and held it to his own head. He belligerently told officers he wouldn't drop the weapon, said Lt. Jim Bell. He was shot in the chest and abdomen after he allegedly lowered the gun toward Johnson.
Investigators said they later received other indications the boy may be suicidal.
"My assessment is the kid desperately needs help," Rich said Monday. "I think he needs psychological help. I think he's a very troubled young man."
The attorney said he is convinced that Calderon had no intent to endanger anyone but himself that morning. "I don't believe that he ever intended to shoot the police officer," Rich said.
While the attorney said there is likely "no question" about whether the shooting was justified under the unusual circumstances, he questions "how he got to that stage without significant societal resources."
"A kid who finds himself in that position . . . (with a) gun facing down police is almost way past the boundary where something should be done," Rich said. "I'm just grateful to have the kid alive."
The Salt Lake County attorney's office is expected to determine later this week whether the shooting was justified.
Calderon was listed in satisfactory condition Monday at LDS Hospital. Rich said no major organs were damaged in the shooting, and the boy is expected to fully recover.
Detectives plan to question Calderon Tuesday and plan to discuss the possibility of filing criminal charges against him on Wednesday. If he is charged, it will likely be in juvenile court.
"This is not one of those cases where we're going to try to hide what we're up to," said Rich. His client plans to cooperate with police and prosecutors and "make peace and move beyond and try to put his life together."