The police-involved shooting of a 15-year-old Black Brooklyn teen is being compared to the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
The shooting, which occurred nearly three years ago, left Keston Charles injured after Officer Jonathan Rivera struck him three of the 16 times he fired at him.
Unlike Rice, Charles was lucky enough to survive. Surveillance video reveals the teen, who had a BB gun at the time, posed no threat.
Lawyers representing Charles say he was shot in the buttocks while fleeing from officers on Dec. 9, 2013, and twice more in the side and chest after he dropped the gun and was surrendering with his hands above his head.
“I put up my hands, they was still shooting,” Charles said in a deposition.
According to New York Daily News, both sides are awaiting a decision from Manhattan Federal Judge Kevin Castel on whether the lawsuit filed by the teen’s family should be dismissed or placed before a grand jury.
“The officer’s claim that this young man repeatedly took aim at him with an unloaded toy gun not only defies logic, but is blatantly contradicted by the video,” lawyers David Shanies, Phil Smallman and Michael Colihan said in a statement. “What happened to Tamir Rice was a tragedy, and both cases are painful reminders of the urgent need to stop unjustified shootings of young African-Americans.”
Police officials accuse Charles of grabbing a BB gun from a friend during a fight with rivals from the neighborhood. They say he pointed the weapon at another boy. The incident was spotted by Officer Rivera and Officer Kevin Franco, who chased the teen.
Rivera then fired 16 shots in three separate rounds. The pursuit ended at Charles’ apartment building, and was caught on various surveillance cameras.
Video allegedly shows Charles running with his back to the cops and glancing over his shoulder as he does so. He limped on after he was shot in the buttocks, then stumbled as he tried to reach his building.
Video footage also shows Charles putting his hands up in the air with no weapon in his hand. Rivera continued to fire at him.
“[Rivera’s] bullets hit the building and created visible clouds of debris,” Shanies argued in court papers. “[Charles] turned around with his hands on his head surrendering. . . . One of Officer Rivera’s bullets struck (Charles) in the flank and another struck him in the chest.”
The teen then collapsed on a nearby fence outside of the building. For three weeks, Charles was placed in a medically-induced coma. He also underwent surgery and later pleaded guilty in Family Court to possessing a fake pistol.
Charles said he was “scared for [his] life” and “was trying to get away” after being shot at by Rivera. He listed his fear as the reason he did not drop the BB gun.
“I’ve never been shot at before,” he said.
Former New York City Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Michael Baden, concluded that “the bullet trajectories were consistent with Charles holding his arms up with his hands on top of his head as indicated in the video when he was shot in the chest.”
An investigation by the NYPD firearms discharge review board found the shooting was justified and met department guidelines for the use of deadly force.
The officers involved in the shooting did not face any disciplinary action. The city argued that Rivera continued firing until there was no longer an imminent threat.