September 20, 2017

Action Alert:
Tell Prince William County that Killing of Suicidal Teen Was Not “Justified”

15 year-old Ruben Urbina was excelling in life. He was a straight ‘A’ honor roll student at PACE West in Gainesville, Virginia. He had a terrific sense of humor that cheered his family.

“The community doesn’t know my other son told the police to stop,” said Oscar Urbina, Ruben’s father.

Ruben had struggled with mental illness, but according to his brother, was improving. On the evening of September 14, however, Ruben had a setback and attempted suicide. The following morning he was agitated and became embroiled in a confrontation with family members and his brother’s girlfriend. At 10:45AM, Ruben called 911 and told Prince William County police that he had a bomb and was holding his family hostage. He also told the dispatcher that “if he was shot by police, he’d be alright with [that],” clearly signaling that he was suicidal.

Four officers responded to the scene and saw Ruben hit his brother’s girlfriend with a crowbar, injuring her. No bomb could be scene in Ruben’s possession and his family members on the scene did not indicate there was one. Ruben began to walk toward the officers and ignored commands to drop the crowbar.  At that point, Officer Robert Choyce shot the teen—a “tiny, little kid“—twice in the upper chest, killing him.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert quickly exonerated Choyce, claiming that the 5′ tall teen had the ability to “inflict death or serious bodily harm upon the responding [four] officers.” Prince William County Police Chief Barry Barnard also claimed Choyce acted “appropriately.”

Please contact Police Chief Barnard and Commonwealth’s Attorney Ebert through one of the the channels below and give them the following message:

The killing of 15 year-old Ruben Urbina by Prince William County Police Officer Robert Choyce was an unnecessary and barbaric act. Ruben had clearly communicated to police that he was suicidal when he called 911 that morning. When officers arrived at the scene, no bomb could be seen, nor did family members indicate there was one . The claim that Choyce had to kill this boy because he was capable of “inflicting death or serious bodily harm” upon four grown men is an outrageous lie. The officers easily could have tackled Ruben and subdued him. But they determined that avoiding being hit once with a crowbar was more important than preserving Ruben’s life. I demand that you charge Officer Choyce with murder and revise Prince William County’s archaic policies dealing with the treatment of mentally ill individuals in crisis. I will be watching your actions closely.

Police Chief Barry Barnard
Phone: (703) 792-6500

Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert
Phone: (703) 792-6050

Once you have contacted Chief Barnard and Commonwealth’s Attorney Ebert, click the orange banner below to report taking action!

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