Civil Liberties

Cop Sees Teen with Fake Gun, Shoots Different Kid, Kindly Declines to Arrest Them (for Now)

Authorities still weighing options


Jason Keisling / Reason

Let's see if we can follow the chain of events detailed in this Los Angeles Times story about a cop who shot a teenager because he was worried a second teenager was threatening the first teenager with a gun. (The gun proved to be fake.)

Around 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, two officers were driving in the 7200 block of 10th Avenue when they spotted a group in an alley. A teenager was pointing what police thought was a gun at another person, Smith said.

So far so good.

Officers ordered the boy to drop the weapon multiple times, Smith said.

Okay. We will take the officers at their word, although lack of video makes it impossible to validate this claim. Recall that the cops who killed Tamir Rice and John Crawford initially made similar claims that were later contradicted by video evidence. In any case, the story continues:

When he didn't comply, one of the officers opened fire.


The teen holding the replica weapon was unharmed, but the 15-year-old boy standing next to him was struck, Smith said.


The officers detained everyone present and concluded the group were friends. "No animus" was involved, Smith said.

Well, good thing they sorted that out.

The teenager who was shot—wrongly, in the back—was taken to the hospital and has recovered from his injuries, which were not grave. And the officers declined to arrest either of the boys at the scene. All's well that ends well, then?

Not quite. The authorities are sill deciding whether to charge the other teen—the one holding the fake gun—with brandishing a lookalike weapon at an officer.

It's not yet clear if the officers who completely misjudged the situation, reacted poorly, and hurt an innocent person will face any consequences, either.