COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus, Ohio, police’s fatal shooting of a 13-year-old black robbery suspect who allegedly had a BB gun will be investigated thoroughly, and the results will be sent to a prosecutor with the anticipation a grand jury will decide whether charges will be filed, the city’s police chief said Thursday.
“This is the last thing that a police officer wants to do in their career. Unfortunately … it becomes necessary at times to defend themselves,” police Chief Kim Jacobs told reporters at a news conference in Columbus.
She said the BB gun that the boy, Tyree King, allegedly had “looks practically identical” to the type of handgun that Columbus police carry.
The shooting happened after an alleged robbery victim told police that a group had pulled a gun on him and demanded money.
Officers eventually saw three people matching the alleged robbers’ descriptions, and two of them ran. When officers caught up to them and tried to arrest them in an alley, King pulled what appeared to be a handgun from his waistband, and an officer shot him, police said.
The gun “turns out not to be a firearm in the sense that it fires real bullets, but … it looks like a firearm that can kill you.” It had a “laser light” that was attached under the barrel, she said.
The officer will be placed on administrative leave for at least a week, and will need to see a psychologist before being allowed to return to duty, Jacobs said. She said the officer’s future with the department beyond the period of leave depends on the investigation.
“I will not let an officer out on the street to perform their job if I do not trust them,” she said.
She urged calm, saying the investigation into whether the gunfire was justified will take time.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther called King’s death troubling and said it should be a “call to action for our entire community.”
“Why is it that a 13-year-old would have nearly an exact replica of a police firearm on him in our neighborhoods — an eighth-grader involved in very, very dangerous conduct in one of our neighborhoods?” Ginther said at the news conference.
“We as a community have to come to grips with … such easy access to guns, whether they are firearms or they are replicas,” he said. “There is something wrong (in) this country, and it is bringing (this) epidemic to our city streets.
“A 13-year-old is dead in the city of Columbus because of our obsession with guns.”
He expressed condolences to King’s family and said it was “absolutely critical that we get this (investigation) right.”