LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The 15-year-old unarmed teen shot in the back by LAPD says he doesn’t believe race was a factor in the shooting and that he is just “happy to be alive.”
Police on Thursday said the shooting was justified as a teen standing next to Jamar Nicholson was holding a replica gun, and they believed he was about to shoot.
Thursday evening, Nicholson told KCAL9’s Laurie Perez that he never saw a gun, replica or not.
He told Perez he isn’t sure why police opened fire.
“I was so scared because, you know, I never been shot at before,” Nicholson said.
Sitting on his mom’s couch in South L.A., Nicholson is in pain 52 hours after an LAPD officer shot him.
He says the bullet is lodged near his spine. Doctors told him it’s too dangerous to remove at this time.
“Really, to me, I’m just happy to be alive. I could have been gone like my mom said, they could’ve called her to identify a body.”
Nicholson says he was with two classmates and another boy in their school uniforms, wearing backpacks, taking a shortcut through an alley on the way to school Tuesday.
He asked to borrow some cologne from his friend, who turned to spray some, and that’s when they heard someone yell “Freeze!”
“I see gunshots, and I felt a gunshot. I got hit and they immediately told us ‘Get on the f—ing ground, get on the motherf—ing ground!’ ”
LAPD says the officer made a split-second decision after seeing one of Nicholson’s friends pointing what they said turned out to be a realistic-looking replica gun. The department put the replica and other fakes on display as it defended its officer Thursday.
“The officer approached the group and ordered the individual on multiple occasions to drop the weapon,” LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.
Nicholson says he doesn’t know anything about a fake; he never saw the replica that day or before.
The 15-year-old freshman, who’s involved in more than one police and city mentoring program and says he’s up for an internship at the mayor’s office, won’t draw comparisons to other recent police shootings of young black men, though he is upset by what he saw as rough treatment.
“The only time they apologized to me personally was when they were uncuffing me from the bed and saying we made a mistake,” said Nicholson.
“If anything, I just believe police are always just doing their job; race has nothing to do with it,” he said.
But attorneys working with the family to explore the possibility of a filing a wrongful shooting suit aren’t so sure this wasn’t about race.
“It’s hard to believe had there been four white teenagers standing in an alley that [police] could have shot that fast,” lawyer John Harris said.