LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The LAPD on Thursday met with reporters to explain how an unarmed 15-year-old was shot in the back in south L.A. Tuesday morning.
The teen, they said, was standing in an alley next to someone holding a fake gun. Police said they ordered the person holding the gun, repeatedly, to drop the weapon.
At the news conference Thursday, CBS2’s Dave Lopez said police displayed the fake gun in an effort to show how real it looks. They also laid out a table of fake weapons that looked like real firearms.
“No cop on the planet wants to shoot an innocent person,” said LAPD Commander Andrew Smith, “especially a child carrying a replica firearm.”
The officer who fired his weapon told investigators that he didn’t see the orange tip of the gun that allows gun owners to know a weapon is a replica at first glance.
The officer said he was 20 feet away and he saw a gun that looked very real.
“He approached the group and ordered the individual to — on multiple occasions — to drop the weapon,” Smith said.
According to one police source — not authorized to speak on-the-record — the officer said the person holding the gun — also a teen and a friend of the 15-year-old who was shot — was also standing in the shooting position. He said the teen whirled around and aimed the gun directly at the teenager.
That’s when the officer reportedly opened fire.
Instead of hitting the person holding the gun, he shot the teen that was standing next to him.
The wounded teen has non-life threatening injuries, officials said. The teen was treated at a hospital and released.
Lopez asked Smith if this was an example of a bad shot by the officer.
He said that detectives were still investigating the incident.
Police said Thursday that fake weapons and replicas were a major problem and that they don’t have the luxury of time to know whether a gun is fake or not when in the possible line of fire.