Florida: 14-Year-Old Black Teen Armed With Airsoft Gun Shot After Police Officer Mistook It For A Real Weapon

A 14-year-old teenager from Jacksonville, Florida, has been hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries after he was shot in the leg by a police officer responding to a 911 call. According to NBC News, the teen, whose name has not been released, was injured after a police officer thought the airsoft gun in the teen’s possession was a real weapon — and shot him in the leg.

According to a CBS Local report, the police officer was responding to a 911 call from a woman living in a townhome complex in Jacksonville late on Friday. The woman had called the police complaining about a teenager who was allegedly shooting at her windows using a pellet gun. The woman had made two calls to the police, confirmed Tom Hackney, director of investigations for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. While they were unable to trace anyone after the first call, officer Josh Livingood, who was deputed for responding to the second call, encountered the teen just outside the woman’s home. The official Twitter handle of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office had tweeted about the incident as well.

Upon seeing the teen, Officer Livingood asked him to put his hands in the air and to co-operate with him. While the teen initially agreed, he suddenly pulled out a gun that was concealed under his waist and pointed the weapon at the officer, said Hackney. Officer Livingood repeatedly asked the teen to drop the weapon to the ground and surrender. The teen, however, allegedly remained defiant. With no way to know whether the teenager had a real weapon with him, the officer took the decision to shoot at the teen. Officer Livingood fired six shots at the teen, one of which struck the teenager’s left leg. The impact of the bullet caused the gun to slip off from the teen’s hands. He also fell to the ground. However, the teen allegedly made one more attempt to reach for the gun. This attempt failed, however, because officer Livingood had already reached closer and managed to kick the gun away.

It was only after the near fatal shooting that the officer realized that the “gun” in possession of the teen was relatively harmless. The teen was later moved to a hospital where he is now undergoing treatment.

Meanwhile, the local sheriff’s office has confirmed that the teen involved in the incident has had a long history of such interactions with the police. In fact, he had been intercepted by authorities for several cases — many of them for mental health issues.

Tom Hackney further added,

“The teen has, according to his family now, been diagnosed with both developmental and psychiatric disorders.”

He also clarified that the gun in possession of the teen was a gold imitation of a 50-caliber Desert Eagle pistol. The gun had an orange tip that denotes that it is not a weapon. Officer Livingood adds that he did not see the orange tip at the time of the incident and when the teen pointed the gun at him. Meanwhile, police officers investigating the incident have confirmed that the teen was not a resident of the area and that he did not know the woman who had called 911.

This latest incident involving a black youngster with guns comes at a time when the U.S. has been reeling under a wave of gun-related crimes. The past year has also seen tensions flare up over the actions of white police officers on black youngsters.

Do you think Officer Josh Livingood took the correct decision and was justified in injuring the teenager who refused to obey his commands?

(Photo by Larry W. Smith/Getty Images)