Officer who shot boy feared gunfight

Associated Press


The white Ohio police officer who fatally shot a black 13-year-old boy after a suspected robbery last year feared a “gunfight” with the teen, who the officer said pulled a gun from his pants, records show.

Columbus police Officer Bryan Mason fired when he saw a laser sight on the weapon, which turned out to be a BB gun, Mason said in a formal statement and interview with detectives obtained by The Associated Press through a records request. Law enforcement officials previously had described the encounter, but the records obtained by the AP reveal Mason’s firsthand account of what happened.

Tyre King refused to comply with Mason’s commands to “get down” and tugged on his gun in his waistband a couple of times as if it were caught on something, Mason said in the statement.

The teen’s “refusal to comply with my commands and his continuing attempts to pull the gun out, caused me to believe that he was going to engage me in a gun fight,” Mason said.

When Tyre pulled out the gun and Mason saw the laser sight, “I believed he was going to shoot me, and I fired my gun at him,” Mason said in his statement. He said he never considered the gun wasn’t real.

Police later determined the gun was inoperable because it lacked a propellant cartridge and could only have fired a BB if it was held upside down, records show.

Attorneys representing the boy’s family criticized the report Thursday, calling it incomplete and minimal. They say witnesses tell a different story of events that night and an investigation continues.

“It is clear that the Columbus Division of Police has either an inability to hold Officer Mason accountable for his use of force against citizens, or no interest in doing so,” said attorneys Sean Walton and Chanda Brown.

Columbus police declined to comment, citing possible litigation.

The shooting was a flashpoint in and around Columbus and spurred protests, including disruptions at Columbus City Council meetings. It added to a list of killings of black males by police in Ohio and other states that have attracted national attention.

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