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‘It’s Fake! It’s Fake!’: Video Shows Cop Shoot Black Ohio Teen Holding Toy Gun; Family Likens Case to That of Tamir Rice

An Akron, Ohio, teen is “traumatized” after getting shot by a police officer while holding a fake gun. 

Tavion Koonce-Williams’ family likened the incident to the death of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy shot and killed in 2017 by a white police officer who confronted the boy as he sat in a park gazebo with a toy gun in his waist band.

“It’s sad that 10 years after the murder of Tamir Rice, we are still here pleading for the police department to see the humanity in our Black boys,” the 15-year-old’s father, James Koonce, said at a press conference last Friday, per ABC News. 

Akron Teen Playing with Fake Gun Shot By Officer
Tavion Koonce-Williams, 15, was shot in the wrist by Akron officer Ryan Westlake.

Just minutes after 7 p.m. on Monday, April 1, someone walking their dog called 911 saying that they saw a Black male near Newton St. and Tonawanda Avenue aiming a gun at houses in the area.

Body camera footage shows when police arrived at the scene and approached Koonce-Williams. 

“Where you coming from? Can I see your hands real quick,” the Akron officer said while hopping out of the car.

The veteran officer — later identified as Ryan Westlake — immediately fired at the teen. 

“It’s fake. It’s fake” the teen yelled repeatedly. 

“Shots fired. Shots fired,” the officer said before ordering him to “drop to the ground” and put his hands behind his back. 

The video shows the teen’s wrist bleeding while the officer puts him in handcuffs: “My hand hurts,” Koonce-Williams said while in pain. The officers at the scene took the restraints off and began rendering emergency first aid. 

“I came from my cousin’s funeral. Oh my God,” he says to the officers at the scene. “I’m a good kid. I get A’s in school. I play football.”

Koonce-Williams was taken to a hospital, where he received medical treatment for his injury. According to the city, Westlake, who has been with the department for nine years, was placed on paid administrative leave. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is actively looking into the case.

At the press conference, Koonce-Williams’ mother, Angel, expressed the impact the shooting has had on their family, ABC News reported.

“This experience has been very, very traumatizing for me, my son, my family and also my other children,” Angel said. “Akron Police Department needs to be held accountable for the excessive force that you use on our Black babies. It is not OK. And we’re sick and tired of watching our babies die in the hands of people who swore an oath to protect and serve.”

It was revealed that Westlake was previously fired from his job back in 2021 for violating department policies. Still, he was reinstated after an arrangement with the police union, per the outlet. The family is calling for greater disciplinary action, more specifically, termination.

Speaking about his client, Attorney Imokhai Okolo added, ” [He] is now grappling with the trauma of being profiled and having his life flash before his eyes after being shot.”

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