(NEW YORK) — Surveillance video from 2013 seems to contradict the ruling that a police-involved shooting of a New York City teen holding a BB gun was justified, according to the teen’s attorney.
In Dec. 2013, an NYPD officer fired 16 shots at then-15-year-old Keston Charles during a foot chase after he was approached at his Brooklyn housing complex, the teen’s lawyer, David Shanies, told ABC News. Charles was hit three times, Shanies said.
The video shows Charles running from multiple police officers throughout the property of Brownsville Heritage Houses in Brooklyn, which is run by the New York City Housing Authority. The chase ended at the entryway to Charles’ apartment building, and the video shows several officers, in uniform and plainclothes, approaching him with guns drawn as he appears to surrender by dropping to his knees with his hands on his head.
Charles dropped the BB gun he was carrying as he was running toward the entryway to his building and was shot the first time by an officer, he said in a sworn deposition taken in May. As he turned to look at the officers, he was shot a second time in his side by the same officer, he said. He was shot a third time in the front by the same officer, he said. The officer allegedly continued to shoot after Charles had put his hands on his head, he said. Charles survived the shooting.
After an internal NYPD review, the shooting was found to be justified, Chief of the NYC Special Federal Litigation Division Patricia Miller told ABC News. A final determination from the NYPD that the shooting was justified was signed off by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton on Jan. 12, 2015.
“As we have argued in our motion before the court, the evidence establishes that the shooting was justified,” Miller said.
But Shanies said the video “definitely contradicted” the officer who shot Charles’ claim that the teen had pointed the BB gun at him.
“Anyone who watched that video and asked themselves whether the officer’s story is true can conclude that themselves,” Shanies said.
Shanies said that the law “makes it clear” that a police officer cannot shoot someone for “simply running away” and that they cannot shoot someone “who is surrendering with his hands on his head.”
“Both those things happened here, and the shooting was totally unjustified,” he said.
The officers “unlawfully approached” Charles, “without probable cause and without a warrant,” according to the civil complaint filed in May 2014 against the NYPD and the City of New York.
The lawsuit claims that the City of New York “directly caused the constitutional violations suffered by” Charles because it was aware that some NYPD officers have a “tendency and predisposition for unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional conduct and or have been poorly trained, supervised and disciplined.”
The NYPD did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Charles, now 18, is seeking $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages and attorney fees, according to the civil complaint. He “suffered serious and severe personal injuries,” the complaint states. As a result of his injuries, he had to have his gall bladder removed, sustained a lacerated liver and left the hospital with pneumonia and a 12-inch open wound that required daily dressing.
The shooting drew comparisons to the death of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed by Cleveland police officers in Nov. 2014 while carrying a toy gun. The City of Cleveland settled a wrongful death suit filed by the boy’s family in that case.
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