Dedric Colvin was carrying a basketball and his BB gun when two non-uniformed officers approached him on the street. Commissioner Kevin Davis says the officers identified who they were before the boy tried to run away. Colvin allegedly stopped and turned toward the cops, which is when Officer Thomas Smith shot Colvin in the shoulder and leg.
One unidentified, independent witness says Colvin yelled that the gun wasn’t real when he turned around. According to Davis, that witness said Colvin lifted the gun as well.
Colvin survived the shooting and remained in the hospital Thursday as East Baltimore community members slammed the officer for unloading on a scared boy. Davis maintained that there was no choice but to shoot.
“Police officers don’t have to wait until they’re being shot to engage in a deadly force scenario,” he said at a press conference Thursday. “The only time you really know if what looks like a gun is a gun is after someone starts squeezing the trigger.”
“If a person is seen walking down a city street with one of those in his hand, what [does the community] want the police to do?” he continued, noting that the toy shouldn’t have been in Colvin’s possession. “What do they expect us to do? Drive by?”
The president of the Fraternal Order of Police at Lodge 3 agreed with Smith’s call, because officers focus on what they see as a weapon and have to make a quick decision. He also placed the blame on Colvin.
“We all played cops and robbers with toy guns when we were younger, but if you have a replica and you take it out on the street, what was the intention?” he asked. He also said Colvin should have obeyed the cops’ orders.
But some Baltimore residents have already pointed out the hypocrisy of the shooting, because police gave a white bomb threat suspect multiple chances to obey commands before shooting him. On Thursday, police spokesman T.J. Smith explained, the suspect appeared to have a bomb strapped to his body at a local TV station. He “came out of the building and started advancing towards officers, was not listening to any of the officers’ orders.”
Before shooting the suspect, police repeatedly told him to remove his hands from his pockets.
Colvin’s family has hired Billy Murphy to represent them. Murphy previously worked with Freddie Gray’s family and won a $6.4 million settlement. The Baltimore Police Department’s Special Investigations Response Team has been tasked with investigating the shooting.
Although Colvin survived, his shooting is similar to that of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was killed in Cleveland for carrying a toy gun. Officer Timothy Loehmann gunned down Rice within two seconds of exiting his police vehicle, leaving no time to issue orders to drop the fake weapon.
On Monday, the day Rice’s family won a $6 million settlement in their wrongful death settlement, the president of a local police union blamed Rice for his own death and said the family should use the money to educate other kids about “the dangers of possessing a real or replica firearm.”
Author: Carimah Townes