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.

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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.

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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.



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