Columbus police released a photo of the toy gun a 13-year-old boy pulled on a cop before he was repeatedly shot and killed when police responded to an alleged armed robbery.
Police officer Bryan Mason shot Tyre King, after believing the weapon the boy had drawn on him was real. King was in fact carrying a bb gun with a laser sight attached.
Three males were involved in the attempted armed robbery and police were called. When they arrived, they ordered two of the males to get down, with King running away. Chasing after the boy in the alley, Mason shot King after he drew his toy gun from his waistband.
Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs told the Daily Mail: “Our officers carry a gun that looks practically identical to this weapon,” adding, “As you can see, it looks like a firearm that could kill you.”
19-year-old Demetrius Braxton, who did not flee the scene, explained to the Columbus Dispatch what happened, noting: “He started to run. When he ran, the cops shot him.” He added, “I didn’t think a cop would shoot. Why didn’t they tase him?”
King’s family attorney noted that the boy was small for his age and that his involvement in a robbery was out of character for the teenager.
Columbus police spokesman Sergeant Rich Weiner spoke to the similarities between King’s death and the shooting of Tamir Rice, an African American boy who was also carrying a toy gun at the time he was shot and killed by a police officer. Weiner noted: “The only thing similar in nature is the age, race and outcome.” He added, “The facts are not similar, and that must be reiterated.”
Officer Mason was put on administrative leave while the case was being investigated. In 2012, he shot and killed a man who was threatening another man with a weapon, but was cleared of any wrongdoing.
A grand jury decided not to indict Mason, finding that his actions were justified, according to a report from the NY Times.
At the time, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther issued a statement that read: “I am grateful for the patience of the community in awaiting the results of the grand jury investigation into the police-involved shooting of Tyre King.”
The statement noted: “The death of a 13-year-old under any circumstances is tragic. I am committed to continuing to work with all residents and the police to break the cycle of violence, build trust and give hope.”
Among those commenters who weighed in on NBC 4’s coverage of the case, one person noted: “She should have been outraged when she noticed he wasn’t in the house at that time of night. Just can’t even have sympathy, if she cared, he would have been at home. If his stupid family thinks it’s ok to rob people, aim fake guns at police, then they need to know, even if he had not got taken down that night, he was eventually going down anyway, maybe at 17, 21, 30? Who knows, his stupidity just got him taken out early and he won’t rob anyone else.”