Relatives mourn teen slain by officer


Tyrise M. Bell was the kind of kid his friends' parents wanted to claim as their own, his family said.

He was polite and respectful. He always lent a hand and made sure the neighborhood's older kids didn't cuss or smoke in front of the little ones, they said.

He certainly wasn't the kind of kid to get into a scuffle with a police officer, they said.

But that's what North Las Vegas police said happened Friday night before an officer shot and killed Bell.

Sitting around the kitchen table Monday afternoon, Bell's relatives planned his funeral and remembered the 18-year-old as a trouble-free youth who loved sports and girls.

He talked of going to college or joining the military, maybe even attending barber school after using his relatives as models for his hair-styling techniques.

"We had to grin and bear it and tell him he did a good job," cousin Tanisha Morris said.

Bell's mother, Michelle Johnson, cried and sometimes sobbed as the others spoke. She lost her eldest son to street violence eight years ago in San Bernardino, Calif.

"She moved out here to get us away from that lifestyle and crime," said Bell's brother, 25-year-old Darwin Dawson. "Who would think an officer, who is supposed to protect and serve, would be the one to take his life?"

North Las Vegas police said the confrontation began about 7:20 p.m. when officer Michael Eggers, a 16-month veteran of the force, made contact with at least one man near Ann Road and Revere Street.

That contact led to a scuffle, and the officer fired when Bell brandished a handgun, police said.

Family members said they never knew him to carry a gun.

Bell died at the scene, an empty dirt lot less than a half mile from his home.

Eggers, 33, was placed on paid administrative leave pending a coroner's inquest, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.

Bell's relatives said he had left the house to walk to the grocery store.

After hearing about the gunfire and the helicopter, Johnson went to the scene. Even though police did not confirm her son's death for six hours, Johnson said she knew it was him. She had the same feeling when her first son was killed, she said.

A makeshift memorial of prayer candles, flowers and balloons marked the spot where Bell died.

Mojave High School student Marquecia Brownlee, 15, stopped by the memorial with a few friends to pay their condolences Monday afternoon.

Brownlee said Bell, who attended Legacy High School last year, helped her hone her jump shot.

"He was the last person I ever expected to die in something terrible like this," she said.

Contact reporter Brian Haynes at bhaynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0281.

 

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