Family accuses Henderson police of killing 12-year-old boy during hostage situation

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 11:31 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - A family is accusing the Henderson Police department of killing a 12-year-old boy during a deadly hostage situation in November of 2020, according to a newly filed lawsuit obtained by FOX5 News.

The 12-year-old identified as Joseph Hawatmeh was shot to death at an apartment complex in Henderson.

The boy was held hostage by 38-year-old Jason Bourne. The man had just fatally shot the boy’s mother and housekeeper and injured his sister, according to police.

Bourne held Hawatmeh at gunpoint inside a car at the apartment complex. Police ended up firing 28 shots toward the car. The suspect and 12-year-old died.

The lawsuit filed said that according to the 911 transcript, the boy was alive and screaming after the first officer shot, but he appeared “mortally injured after the first volley of shots.”

In audio heard from the body camera footage released by police, the Seagart said, “take a shot if you have it, Pendleton. Do not hit that [expletive] kid.” As she was still speaking the officer fired one shot and then several other officers fired.

The sergeant is heard yelling, “stop and cease-fire” through several more gunshots.

The department said officers fired a total of 28 rounds. In a video statement released by the department days after the shooting, Deputy Chief David Burns said the suspect had a firearm that was pointing at the boy.

“Officers continued to engage Bourne in an attempt to deescalate the situation at which point shots were fired,” Burns said. “Officers were unable to rescue the juvenile before he succumbed to the injuries inflicted by Bourne.”

Police have still not said if it was bullets from Bourne or officers that claimed the life of the boy.

The defendants listed in the complaint include the city, police department, officers involved and police chief.

“The foregoing facts required HPD officers to reassess the scene and decelerate the events and create time and distance to obtain the assistance of trained members of SWAT and a hostage negotiator,” the lawsuit reads. “Instead, just the opposite occurred, resulting in the death of Joseph.”

Among the claims in the suit are wrongful death, negligence and failure to train and supervise.

A city spokesperson told FOX5 it would be premature for the city of Henderson to publicly discuss the lawsuit at this time.

Usually, after deadly police shootings, there is a fact-finding review conducted by the district attorney’s office. Nearly two years later, there has not been a review.

Tuesday, the Henderson Police Department announced it is revising and modernizing its use of force policy. That includes requiring officers to use all available de-escalation tactics prior to using physical force and to stop physical force as soon as the necessity for it ends.