Ruben Urbina’s family and friends are still refusing to accept the police department’s version of the 15-year-old boy’s shooting death outside his Haymarket townhome more than a month ago by a Prince William County police officer.
Ruben’s parents joined with about 20 other community members and activists to demand more answers from police and prosecutors in front of the Prince William County courthouse in Manassas on Oct. 26, just a few weeks after they held a public vigil remembering the teenager’s life.
The county’s top prosecutor, Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert, ruled the shooting justified and declined to pursue criminal charges against the officer involved, 35-year-old Robert Choyce. But the boy’s family members, some of whom witnessed the shooting, remain adamant that county authorities rushed their investigation of the incident and have painted a false picture of what led up to Ruben’s death.
“The truth is still not out,” said Nelson Lopez, an activist with LaColectiVA who organized the rally. “The Prince William County police department has pushed a narrative that shows them in the best possible light.”
Ebert and police leaders say that Ruben called 911 on Sept. 15, claiming he had a bomb strapped to his chest and was holding his mother hostage. When officers arrived at his Haymarket neighborhood, police said, they found Urbina wielding a crowbar and threatening his brother’s girlfriend. They said he then struck the woman and rushed toward the officers and they felt compelled to use force.
Ruben’s family still won’t say how they believe police erred in this description of events — Lopez said they are consulting with attorneys and won’t yet speak with reporters about the incident — but activists forcefully rejected the police narrative of events at the courthouse rally.
The claim that Ruben approached officers at “an aggressive pace” is not true, Lopez said.
The notion that the boy “raised the crowbar in the air with both hands in a threatening manner” as he neared the officers is “not true” either, according to Lopez.
And Ebert’s assertion that the officer didn’t fire at Ruben until he was “10 feet away” from the police is “not true,” Lopez said.
“These are all lies about the threat he posed to police and his family,” Lopez said. “And Paul Ebert took less than four days to rule it justified.”
Lopez and other activists supporting the Urbina family have repeatedly called for an independent investigation of the shooting, though Ebert and police have so far refused those overtures, saying they will only do so if new information about the case comes to light.