The Columbus Dispatch reports; Four Black teenagers who were with 13-year-old Tyre King in the hours before he was fatally shot by a white Columbus police officer in 2016 will now be required to pay if the city or the officer is found liable in a federal lawsuit filed by King’s family.
Demetrius Braxton, now 18; Jaronn Collins, now 18; Preona Russell, now 15; and Akilah Bulger, now 16, were all added as third-party defendants at the request of the city of Columbus in the civil-rights lawsuit filed by Dearrea King, Tyre’s grandmother.
The Columbus City attorney’s office said the city’s position is that the four teens, as well as King, acted in such a way that King’s death was a consequence of their actions.
Braxton, Collins, Russell and Bulger were with King on the night of Sept. 14, 2016, according to documents filed by attorneys representing the city and Columbus police Officer Bryan Mason. The group had been driving around in a stolen vehicle and decided to rob someone with a “replica firearm” that King had, court documents say.
The documents further say that Braxton used the fake gun to rob a person of $10, then ran away with King as officers arrived in the area. The others fled in the car.
Police said Braxton complied with officers’ commands to get on the ground, but King began pulling at an object in his waistband that appeared to be a firearm, court records said.
According to the complaint,
At least one eyewitness counters Officer Mason’s account, instead stating that the toy gun was not visible in Tyre’s waistband, that Tyre never reached for the toy gun, and that Tyre instead took 2-3 steps away from the officer before being shot in the head by Officer Mason initially, followed by two other shots. The eyewitness stated that Officer Mason then said “y’all are dumb!”, “you’re stupid!”, “why would you fucking run!”, “y’all are some dumb niggers!”
The Columbus Division of Police failed to acknowledge or investigate the allegation that Officer Mason fatally shot Tyre then called him a “dumb nigger.”
At least one other eyewitness counters Officer Mason’s account as well. The eyewitness states that Tyre was initially stopped by Officer Mason but attempted to run, and that there was no gun visible and Tyre never reached for anything. The eyewitness further states that Officer Mason shot three times very quickly, hitting Tyre in the side of the head and that the shots happened so quickly that Tyre never had time to reach for a weapon because he had just began to run.
At least one other eyewitness counters Officer Mason’s account as well, instead stating that Tyre was running then stopped after Officer Mason yelled something at Tyre. The witness states that Tyre didn’t listen and began running, then Officer Mason started shooting. The witness stated that it happened very fast and they never saw Tyre holding a gun. The witness thought he was just a kid playing.
Shortly after the fatal shooting, the family of Tyre King commissioned an independent examination of his body. The forensic pathologist that performed that examination determined that “based on the location and direction of the wound paths, it is more likely than not that Tyre King was in the process of running away from the shooter or shooters when he suffered all three gunshot wounds.”
The pathologist determined that Tyre suffered a gunshot wound to the left temple, amongst other gunshot wounds.
The only witness that corroborates Officer Mason’s version of events is his partner at the time of the fatal shooting, Officer Robert Reffitt.
Tyre was approximately 5’1” and 100 lbs. at the time of his death, described by the pathologist as a “small-framed, adolescent boy.” Officer Mason fatally shot Tyre while pursuing suspects in an armed robbery. The suspects listed on the police report related to the robbery were described as being between 5’8” and 5’9” tall.
The fatal shooting of Tyre King was Officer Mason’s fourth police-involved shooting incident. Officer Mason has been the subject of at least 47 reports involving force as a Columbus Division of Police Officer. Of those cases, Columbus Police have determined all but one of those cases to be “within policy” or “unfounded,” with the other determination still pending. [MORE]
Collins, Russell and Bulger were not charged by police for their alleged roles in the robbery. Collins currently is being held in the Franklin County jail pending multiple felony charges on unrelated offenses. Authorities say he is undergoing treatment to restore his mental competency before the case continues.
Assistant City Attorney Andrew Miller filed the third-party complaint against the four teens. None of the teens responded to the complaint; they were ordered to be held fiscally responsible by U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus, according to court records. [MORE]
Columbus Authorities Try to Shift Accountability to Black Teens who were w/Tyre King. Witnesses say White Cop Shot 13 yr Old in the Head, No Toy Gun was Visible & Called Him NGHR after Killing Him