Police in Jacksonville, Florida shot and injured a 14-year-old Black male who they say pointed an Airsoft gun at an officer, prompting him to open fire.
The officer, identified as Josh Livingood, mistook the gun for a real weapon. The teenager, who has a known history of mental illness, according to Jacksonville.com, sustained a non-life threatening injury to the leg. Livingood was one of two officers responding to a call from a woman who reported someone with a BB gun was shooting at her windows and doors.
When Livingood arrived on the scene and told the teenager to put his hands in the air, he allegedly pulled out the Airsoft gun and pointed it at him. The officer opened fire, shooting six bullets towards the unnamed teenager. One bullet struck the boy in his leg, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Tom Hackney confirmed.
The teen dropped the gun and Livingood was able to kick it away before the teen could recover the weapon, Hackney said.
The teen’s gun, designed to be non-lethal, was a gold imitation of a 50-caliber Desert Eagle pistol with an orange tip, Hackney said. He said the teen was about 25 feet from Livingood and the woman who reported a prowler was near the officer.
Two unoccupied cars behind the teen were hit at least three times but the14-year-old was the only one injured in the shooting.
The teenager, who was transported to a nearby hospital, does not have a criminal record, Hackney said, but does have “developmental and psychiatric disorders,” NBC reports.
“It’s a sad and unfortunate thing that it turns out that it was a BB gun, but it would be as equally sad and as equally unfortunate if that officer hesitated because he wasn’t sure it was a BB gun and I’m out here updating you on a dead police officer,” Hackney told reporters overnight.
This is at least the third time in over a year that a police officer has shot an individual holding a fake weapon. November marked a year since Cleveland, Ohio police shot Tamir Rice — the 12-year-old boy who was playing in the park with a toy gun when he was fatally gunned down by Officer Timothy Loehmann.
Livingood has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.