A Baltimore police officer shot a 13-year-old boy on Wednesday afternoon after he was spotted holding what is being reported as a “replica gun.”
The teen fled from police around 4 p.m. after they identified themselves as officers and ordered him to drop the gun. During the chase, officer Thomas Smith shot the boy once in the leg and once in the shoulder. The boy is currently being treated for non-life-threatening wounds.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis has stated that the officers had no way of knowing the teen was not carrying a real gun.
“I would argue our police officers were compelled to act when they saw that 13-year-old with a gun in his hand,” Davis told local Q13 Fox News reporters. “They did what the community expects them to do.”
Davis said multiple times during a news conference that the replica gun looked entirely real and that it was a “dead-on ringer” for a semi-automatic Beretta pistol. Upon closer look, police discovered that it was a Daisy Powerline 340 .177-caliber BB gun, which is generally used for target shooting.
The boy’s mother admits that she knew her son had left home with a toy “BB gun,” but police still don’t know why he had it or what his intentions were on that Wednesday afternoon.
One witness at the scene stated that he “heard him yell, ‘It’s not real,’ like twice, and that quick, the male officer shot him twice in the leg.”
This incident happened to occur on the first anniversary of the violent protests over the death of a man who was in Baltimore police custody and just two days after the city of Cleveland reached a $6 million settlement with the family of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was killed by police after being seen with a toy gun in 2014.
Studies show that as many as 10,000 people in the U.S. may be wrongfully convicted of serious crimes each year, but what about the number of victims who are injured or killed by police as a result of misunderstanding or miscommunication? In 2015 alone, 965 people were fatally shot by police. As many as 90 of these people were completely unarmed.
It’s a controversial subject as some blame the police for acting on “racial bias,” while others point fingers at the victims for negligence.