Says Victim Attacked Him, Mother Charges Racism : Officer Kills Top Student, Sets Off Furor

Associated Press

Police say a 17-year-old honors student was shot and killed by a plainclothes officer after trying to rob him, but a lawyer and the youth’s mother called it part of a pattern of brutality against minorities.

Edmund Perry Jr., a June graduate of prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H., was shot Wednesday night by Officer Lee Van Houten after Perry and another youth tried to rob the officer, police said. Perry died Thursday morning.

Van Houten, 24, “was jumped, knocked to the ground and beaten” by two teen-agers, police spokesman Joseph McConville said. “He drew his gun from an ankle holster and fired three shots, hitting one of the suspects.”

The other youth fled and has not been captured, police said.


No Criminal Record

“I’m numbed with official police versions of this kind of incident and I don’t accept that version of what happened,” said Perry family lawyer Vernon Mason, who noted that the teen-ager had no criminal record and no reason to rob anyone.

Perry was to enter Stanford University in the fall and had a summer job on Wall Street, his family said.

Perry’s mother, Veronica Perry, blamed racism. The Perrys are black. Van Houten is white.


“I’m here because of the injustice done to my son, who had such a bright and shining future,” she told a news conference. “White men hated to see his success. Because he was so good. That’s the only way I can figure it.”

No Weapon Found

Deputy Chief David W. Scott confirmed that Perry had no previous record and no weapon was found on him.

Van Houten had been working with a sergeant and two other officers on robbery detail around Morningside Park, McConville said. Van Houten was on foot; the others were in a car “one or two blocks away” when the shooting occurred, Scott said.


“I saw blood and bruises on the officer that would be consistent with the injuries that can be sustained in a struggle,” he said. Investigators have found nothing to dispute the officer’s account, he added.