The shooting occurred Tuesday while police were investigating reports of vandalism in a neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles.
The teenager, who police said was armed with a gun, allegedly shot at police before officers returned fire, killing him. Police said they recovered the teen’s gun at the scene.
Authorities said they suspect that the youth, identified as Jesse Romero, might have been involved in gang activity.
But the teen’s mother Teresa Dominguez disputed the police account, telling local media that her son was “a good boy.”
“He didn’t do anything violent,” Dominguez said.