Pleasantville teen vigil

Vigil member protest outside Pleasantville City Hall after the vigil. Monday April 29 2013 Vigil for Alexis Perez in Pleasantville. (The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto)

Ben Fogletto

PLEASANTVILLE — The parents of a 19-year-old man who was shot and killed by police last week said their son did not pose an immediate threat to the officers and police blocked their attempts to speak to their son.

About 50 family friends and neighborhood activists held a vigil and rally for Alexis Yamil Perez outside his home Monday night. The event focused on the desire for justice in the incident and for the officers to be held accountable for what happened.

City residents Hector and Azalea Perez said through their daughter-in-law Jessie Perez they witnessed their son Alexis Yamil Perez being shot by police officers in front of their West Park Avenue home the afternoon of April 22.

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When police arrived at the scene, one officer relayed over the radio that the man had a knife and a rock, authorities said. Three police officers ended up shooting the man, who died of multiple gunshot wounds, authorities said.

But the parents said Monday that their son, who had a knife, did not pose a threat or move toward any of the officers. Hector Perez also said he tried to step outside and talk to his son but an officer cursed at him and told him to go back inside the house.

The Prosecutor’s Office has not released any details on the case and does not comment on active investigations.

Jessie Perez said the family wants the police officers to be fired and have started a petition campaign.

“If you don’t know how to do your job you need to be fired,” she said,.

The Prosecutor’s Office said the parents, through the Atlantic County Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy, asked that the tape of the 911 call reporting the incident not be released. But Monday night the parents said that isn’t true.

Jessie Perez said Alexis Yamil Perez called 911 on his mother’s cell phone. The parents did not know their son made the call until they were informed later that night by police. Jessie Perez said they do not know why he called 911.

Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain could not be reached Monday night to say whether — now that the family has publicly denied blocking its release — the 911 tape could be made public.

After Monday’s vigil, the people got into cars and drove to the Police Department and stood outside chanting “No Justice! No Peace!” and “No More Murders!” They later marched through Main Street.

Hector and Azalea Perez said the demonstration gave the family strength to continue their cause.

Atlantic City resident Maria Diaz said the community will seek to fix the problems caused by the officers.

“We can fix what they broke,” she said. “Even though we can’t bring Alexis back, we can fix what’s going on in the community.”

Christine DeJesus, a friend of Perez, said she can’t comprehend why officers needed to shoot him.

“I can’t imagine why,” she said.

Egg Harbor Township resident Jeff Rey said Perez had more love than any other man he ever knew.

“We are not going to stop until justice is done,” he said.

Staff Writer Lynda Cohen contributed to this report.

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Follow Joel Landau on Twitter @landaupressofac

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