Trapon springs teen shot killed after pointing rifle’ at officer


TARPON SPRINGS, FL – A 17-year-old boy was killed by officers after they said he aimed a gun at them in Tarpon Springs at night.
At about 9:30 p.m., the police said, the police department received several calls referring to a black-clad person walking down Pinellas Street, in the Tarpon Street area, with a military-style rifle. Witnesses said the teen was pointing his gun at people who were driving.
Officers later located the teen near the intersection of Tarpon Street and Pinellas Street.
The teenager aimed the gun at several cars and at the responding officers. Police said two officers fired 12 shots at the young man.
“Officials, fearing for their lives and the lives of others, fired several shells at the subject,” Tarpon Springs Police Chief Jeff Young said.
The officers immediately began to provide first aid. Police said the young man was later taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead from his injuries.
The officers said that when they approached the teen, they discovered that the military-style gun was actually an airsoft pistol, which shoots plastic BBs.
Bodycam footage released on Monday shows that the entire confrontation, from the police arrival at the scene to the shooting, lasted 46 seconds.
Dr. David Thomas is a law enforcement expert and Professor of Forensic Medicine at the University of Florida Gulf Coast (FGCU). He said the responding officers had to quickly make a difficult call.
“Is this person a threat to an officer? Or is he a danger to citizens?” He said.
After the teen was announced, some questioned if the confrontation might have ended differently, but Dr. Thomas says the officers’ intention was most likely not to kill.
He said, “Officers are not trained to shoot to kill. They are trained to shoot to stop the threat.”
Police said the teen had 22 different interactions with law enforcement. Eleven are with other Pinellas County law enforcement agencies and 11 are with the Tarpon Springs Police Department.
The teen has also had two criminal arrests in his past: battery on a school board employee in 2017 and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in 2018.
At this time, the two officers involved in the shooting are on administrative leave.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the state attorney general’s office are actively investigating the case.
Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, says Dr. Thomas, the shooting will have a mental impact.
“If the shooting was justified, I think you can live with it a lot better than if it wasn’t,” he said.
The teenager was a junior at Tarpon Springs High School. The Pinellas County School District released the following statement:
“The Pinellas County Schools community is saddened by the death of one of our students at Tarpon Springs High School. The District Student Services team will provide grief counselors to students and staff who need assistance. Our thoughts and prayers are with the student’s family and friends. Please refer questions regarding this incident to the Tarpon Springs Police Department


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