The Baltimore Police Department is reeling after another police shooting made headlines on Wednesday. An officer shot and injured a young teen holding a replica pistol thought to be a real gun, Commissioner Kevin Davis told reporters.
Two plainclothes detectives spotted the 13-year-old walking down an East Baltimore street with “what appeared to be a firearm,” Davis said. The officers identified themselves as police, and the teen ran with the object in hand. Both officers pursued on foot and one fired a single shot at the boy, “striking him non-fatally,” Davis said.
The shooting came on the one-year anniversary of the funeral of Freddie Gray, whose death in police custody spurred weeks of tension between police and protesters in the city.
Davis said that after many years in law enforcement, he was unable to tell that the gun was not real.
“I looked at it myself today, I stood right over top of it, I put my own eyes on it. It’s an absolute, identical replica semiautomatic pistol,” he said. “Those police officers had no way of knowing that it was not, in fact, an actual firearm. It looks like a firearm.”
Though he acknowledged he is unaware of what, if anything, was said to the young boy before the shot occurred, Davis added, “I don’t know why this young man chose to flee on foot when he was approached by two Baltimore police officers.”
Davis said the victim’s mother told authorities it was a BB gun.
The boy, who she identified as 14-year-old Dedric Colvin, was later treated for injuries at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dedric’s age is not the only conflicting information the victim’s mother provided. Volanda Young told the Baltimore Sun her son was shot in both the shoulder and leg. The commissioner previously said Dedric was shot in the “lower extremity.”
According to the Sun, Young said an older son alerted her to Dedric’s injuries. She was at her home when he ran in to tell her Dedric had been shot by police. She found her son bleeding in the street.
“All I could see was blood,” she said. “I was screaming.” She said she asked officers whether her son was alive.
What followed was what Young called a “humiliating” experience with police. She told the Sun she was handcuffed and placed in a police car while attempting to call the hospital. She said police then took her to the station, where she was questioned and placed in a holding cell before officers escorted her to the hospital two hours later, she estimated.
Davis defended the actions of his officers, telling reporters, “[Colvin] had every opportunity to stop, put his hands in the air, comply with the instructions of the police officers. I don’t know what’s going through a 13-year-old’s mind. I don’t know why he decided to put a gun in his hand and leave his house. I wish he didn’t. I’m sure his mom wishes he didn’t. But the Baltimore Police Department is tasked with identifying people who pose a threat to this community.”
Davis said the officers followed protocol.
“They got out of their car and engaged a person that appeared to have a gun in his hand. That’s what we’re supposed to do. That’s what cops do.”