A 14-year-old boy was shot by Baltimore police who said they believed he was holding a firearm.
The police department defended the shooting saying the officers had little option but to pursue the boy when they saw him walking down the street with what looked like a deadly handgun.
The boy suffered what police called non-life-threatening injuries.
The weapon turned out to be a replica handgun.
The incident took place on Wednesday around 4pm, after two plainclothes officers from the Baltimore Police Department saw a young male with a handgun, Police Chief Kevin Davis said in a statement to the media. He said that the officers identified themselves as police to the young boy, but that he ran away and a foot chase ensued.
After chasing the boy for about 150 yards and seeing he did not drop what they thought was a weapon, one of the officers giving chase discharged his firearm and struck the boy, Davis said. It’s unclear how many shots were fired, or if the boy was pointing the gun at the officers or anybody else.
The boy’s injuries are not life-threatening and he is expected to survive, Davis said. The police said he is 13, but the youth’s mother identified him as a 14-year-old eighth grade student named Dedric Colvin, the Baltimore Sun reported. She said he was struck twice, in the shoulder and the leg.
After the shooting took place, investigators discovered the weapon in question was a “replica handgun.” The boy’s mother, Volanda Young, told police her son had a BB gun, and the Baltimore Sun identified it as a spring-air-powered BB gun, not a real firearm.
Speaking to reporters, Chief Davis said the replica was “a dead-on ringer” for a real weapon.
“I looked at it myself today, I stood right over top of it, I put my own eyes on it,” he said. “It’s an absolute, identical replica semi-automatic pistol. Those police officers had no way of knowing that it was not, in fact, an actual firearm. It looks like a firearm.”
He also defended the actions of the officers who confronted the boy, adding that the youth had “every opportunity” to drop the gun. He said he does not know why the boy ran away, or why he did not listen to orders to drop the gun.
“I’ve got no reason to believe that these officers acted inappropriately at this moment,” he said.
When asked later to confirm that officers gave verbal commands to drop the gun, Davis said the investigation would reveal those types of details.
The incident harkens back to the death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was shot by police in Cleveland, Ohio. The cops thought he was holding a real weapon. It turned out that he was playing with a toy gun.