Police in Columbus, OH, are facing questions after a 13-year-old boy named Tyree King was fatally shot by an officer for reportedly drawing a BB gun. Late on the night of Sept. 14, officers responded to an armed robbery call and located King and two other suspects in an alley near the scene of the incident, reports NBC. Once they approached, the suspects fled.
King then pulled what appeared to be a gun from his waistband, according to police, leading an officer to shoot him multiple times. The weapon turned out to be a BB gun. During a press conference about the incident, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs held up an image of the BB gun, illustrating how similar to a real weapon it appears. King was pronounced dead at the hospital at 8:22 p.m., shortly after the armed robbery call was placed at 7:42 p.m.
The officer who shot king, Bryan Mason, is a nine-year veteran on the force and was placed on administrative leave, according to NBC. Police didn't say if Mason was wearing a body camera or not.
Many people on Twitter struggled to reconcile King's possible crime with his death.
You can acknowledge that it's possible #TyreeKing committed a crime, while also acknowledging that the punishment for robbery isn't death.
— KendraJames (Harlem) (@KendraJames_) September 15, 2016
There is no need for this! He was a 13yo kid. Put ur bullet proof vest on & aim for a non fatal location if u feel u must shoot #TyreeKing
— Drew Ryan Scott (@drewryanscott) September 15, 2016
— Sam White (@samwhiteout) September 15, 2016
13-year-old white children walk around with BB guns all the time. The difference is they are not targeted and executed for it. #TyreeKing
— Brotha B (@BlakeDontCrack) September 15, 2016
If you find yourself criminalizing #TyreeKing, a dead, 13-year-old, instead of expressing your condolences to his family, you're a demon.
— LEFT✍🏾 (@LeftSentThis) September 15, 2016
Others implied the officer was justified in using force.
1. Used the BB Gun in a robbery.
2. Attempted to pull the BB gun on officers.
3. You blame the police - I blame the parents.
— FERRARI FORBES (@ferrariforbes) September 15, 2016
Instead of blaming the police, maybe you should teach your children not to rob people or point guns at police officers. #TyreeKing
— Makada (@_Makada_) September 15, 2016
I had a BB gun when I was a young minority in the ghetto.
Never pointed it at a cop.
Probably just a coincidence.#TyreeKing
— el ¡Soopèr! ن (@SooperMexican) September 15, 2016
The incident bears a striking similarity to the 2014 slaying of Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old who was wielding a toy gun when he was shot by Cleveland police in a park. Rice was not a suspect in a crime, but officers said he reached into his waistband and pulled out the gun, prompting his shooting. Frame-by-frame analysis of the surveillance camera footage, however, did not provide conclusive images to corroborate or disprove the claim.