A video showing a Clayton County, Georgia, police officer holding a firearm at a group of teenagers, and neighbors loudly defending them has spurred anger at how the youths were treated and demands that the officer be disciplined.
Authorities said police had been called to a convenience store location around 7 p.m. Monday (June 15) when a clerk told them five teenagers had been trying to steal from it. The caller told a 911 dispatcher that one had a gun. The clerk called police again, saying the teens were in the parking lot fighting.
When police arrived the responding officer, believing that one of the teens had a gun pulled his own service weapon and pointed it at them, according to his police report.
“I told the juveniles to listen to me for their safety and I gave them instructions on what I wanted and needed them to do,” the officer wrote in the report, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I held my service weapon in the low ready and was waiting for backup to arrive.”
The officer said that he was trying to “de-escalate” the situation. But a person nearby begins to record video of the incident and can be heard yelling “come on now, they’re kids.” Others nearby implore the officer to put his weapon away.
The officer said in the report that he told the teens to remain focused on him “because the crowd was yelling in the background.”
Another police car arrives at the scene and a second officer begins to pat all of the teens down and the first policeman holstered his weapon. None of the teens were armed, it turns out, and none were taken into custody, the AJC reports.
But the police report said that surveillance video showed the teens playing with a BB gun that “closely resembled a live semi-automatic pistol,” according to a Clayton County Police statement.
The incident sparked backlash given the shooting death last weekend of Rayshard Brooks at the hands of Atlanta police officers. The policeman who fired the fatal shot at him, Garrett Rolfe has been fired and prosecutors are determining if criminal charges will be filed against him.