Mother of slain Tacoma teen: 'Murder is what it was'

TACOMA, Wash. -- The family of a Pierce County teenager who was shot to death has started a petition calling on prosecutors to re-investigate the case and upgrade the criminal charges.

Jackie Bea is struggling to make sense of her son's death.

"He made us proud. He was so full of joy," she said.

Tanielu Lotovaivai is now charged with first degree manslaughter in Jalon Bea's death, but Jackie Bea wants that upgraded to murder.

"Murder is with intent," she said. "Manslaughter is not, it's just reckless. Slap on the wrist, that's not what it is. Murder is what it was."

According to court documents, Lotovaivai told detectives he was playing around when he pointed a gun at Bea and pulled the trigger. He said he didn't know the gun was loaded.

Instead of calling 911, Lotovaivai and another man drove Bea to the hospital, where he died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. Police say Lotovaivai took off before detectives got there.

"It was not an accident and I feel that with every being of my heart," Jackie Bea said.

Police say Lotovaivai's statement is consistent with statements from other witnesses they interviewed.

"I think there are people out there who have not come forward and who are not being truthful," Jackie Bea said.

At the Bea family home, there are now only memories of Jalon, including a football that was given to the family by Seahawks player Sidney Rice after Jalon's death.

"It means so much. It means so much, and I know he's smiling down right now -- just look lord look what I got," Jackie Bea said.

Despite her pain, Jackie Bea said she's hopeful the truth will come out.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said he charged Lotovaivai as aggressively as he could based on the facts from police reports. He said if more information emerges, he might consider changing the charge, but he would have to base that on evidence and not speculation.