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A 13-year-old black boy has been shot dead by a white Ohio police officer for pulling out a toy gun while he was being chased after a $10 theft.
Ohio authorities on Thursday stated that the Columbus officer, Bryan Mason, who was responding to a report of a $10 armed robbery shot Tyre King, an eighth grader, multiple times on Wednesday night, September 14th after the youngster pulled a BB gun from his waistband that looked “practically identical” to the weapon carried by officers.
It remains unclear if the boy had actually pulled out the gun and aimed it at the Mason. The family of the boy, in a statement through its lawyer, said officer’s version of events was in conflict with numerous witness accounts.
How exactly King acted before he was shot dead is not known at the moment, the family said, and called for an independent investigation. According to AP, a man told officers that a group of young men had demanded money, threatening him with a gun. The victim calmly indicated he didn’t want to make a big deal over $10.
Sirens were heard moments later as police searched for the suspects.
A short time later officers found three males, including King, matching the description of the suspects, police said. While attempting to question them, King and another male fled into an alley.
What happened afterwards remains sketchy. Ohio Police claim Mason fired after King pulled out the look-alike gun from his waistband but according to The Columbus Dispatch newspaper, 19-year-old Demetrius Braxton, the other boy who was with King, said police asked them to get down but King ran before being shot.
Braxton also admitted the boys committed the robbery.
“I didn’t think a cop would shoot. Why didn’t they tase him?” Braxton told the newspaper.
Police has not officially identified Braxton as the other boy who was with King. It only said it had questioned the other male, who was later released
King was taken to a children’s hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He played several sports, including football, and was in the young scholars program at school, according to Sean Walton, the lawyer for his family.
Police records show that in 2012, officer Mason, a nine-year veteran of the force shot and killed a man who was holding another person at gunpoint. Columbus Dispatch said investigators cleared him. Mason has been sent on leave while the shooting is investigated.
At a news conference, Police Chief Kim Jacobs displayed a photo of the BB gun like the one Tyre had.
“Our officers carry a gun that looks practically identical to this weapon,” she said. ” As you can see, it looks like a firearm that could kill you.”
Mayor Andrew Ginther has called for the community to come together and questioned why an eight-grader would have a replica of a police firearm.
“There is something wrong in this country, and it is bringing its epidemic to our city streets,” Ginther said on Thursday. “And a 13-year-old id dead in the city of Columbus because of our obsession with guns and violence.”
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