Newly obtained footage from a surveillance camera revealed 15-year-old Keston Charles posed no threat when NYPD officers fired at him 16 times.
In 2013, Charles was chased by officers when a housing bureau cop saw the teen holding a BB gun during a neighborhood altercation. Officers Rivera and Kevin Franco spotted the confrontation and chased the teen.
During the chase, Rivera fired at Charles, unloading all 16 rounds of his gun. Charles was hit in the buttocks, chest, and side during the chase, said Charles’s lawyers. Charles was then taken to a hospital where he was placed in a medically induced coma for three weeks and underwent surgery. He later pleaded guilty in family court to possessing a fake pistol.
After the shooting occurred, an investigation was opened to sort out the specifics of the incident, and Charles and his family sued the city for the officer’s use of excessive force. Rivera and the officers claimed that during the chase, Charles took aim at them with his weapon; however, upon watching the video, Charles’s lawyers refuted their argument.
“The officer’s claim that this young man repeatedly took aim at him with an unloaded toy gun not only defies logic, but it is blatantly contradicted by the video,” lawyers David Shanies, Phil Smallman and Michael Colihan said in a statement.
Before the video was entered as evidence, Elissa Jacobs, a lawyer for the city, argued in court that Charles “did not put his hands up to surrender before any round of shots.”
In his initial deposition, Charles admitted that during the chase he put both arms in the air.
“I put up my hands, they was still shooting,” Charles said in his sworn deposition.
He also admitted that he did not drop the BB gun during the chase because he was terrified and did not know what to do, because he had never been shot before.
Dr. Michael Baden, former New York City chief medical examiner, concluded after viewing the evidence presented by Charles’s attorneys that “the bullet trajectories are consistent with Keston holding his arms up with his hands on top of his head as indicated in the video when he was shot in the chest.”
A decision by Federal Judge Kevin Castel on whether the lawsuit filed by the teen’s family should be dismissed or put before a jury to decide whether there was excessive force used will soon be made.
As for the officers who shot Charles, no disciplinary action was ever taken.
Surveillance footage — obtained exclusively and published Friday by the New York Daily News —
(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)