Surveillance video (below) has recently emerged of New York City Police Officer Jonathan Rivera firing 16 shots at a black teen, Keston Charles, on Dec. 9, 2013.
Charles, then 15 years old, took a BB gun from a friend and pointed it at an unidentified boy during a fight with some neighborhood folks, reports the New York Daily News.
Rivera and Officer Kevin Franco reportedly witnessed the incident, and chased Charles on foot, which is when the video picks up.
The video shows Rivera firing shots, while frightened bystanders scramble to get away. Charles struggles to get to the front door of his apartment building after being wounded in the buttocks. Charles then raises his hands over his head in an apparent surrender. Rivera fires his gun and Charles collapses on a nearby fence.
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The Charles' family attorneys, who are suing the city for excessive force, said in a statement: "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."
The city's lawyer, Elissa Jacobs, said in court filings that Rivera fired shots because the teen turned his body sideways towards police on three separate occasions during the foot chase, and "did not put his hands up to surrender before any round of shots."
After being shot, Charles was placed in a medically induced coma and had surgery. The teen did plead guilty in family court to possession of a fake pistol.
According to the legal database FindLaw.com: "New York City requires a license to possess a BB gun. New York City law requires anyone who possesses or sells an air pistol or air rifle to have a specific license to do so, with the exception of licensed operators of 'an amusement' or an authorized pistol range."
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When asked why he did not simply drop the BB gun during the chase, Charles said in court papers: "Because I was scared for my life. I was trying to get away. I never been shot at before."
The NYPD firearms discharge review board ruled in favor of its own officer, saying he was justified in firing shots at Charles because the teen was struck three times out of 16, which proved "how fast he continued to move and that the threat to public safety had not been abated."
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in the past that police cannot shoot a suspect in the back for "just for running away," notes the New York Daily News.
The city's lawyers asserted that Rivera kept shooting at Charles until there was no longer an imminent threat from Charles and the BB gun.