Canadian child Elias Pyrros, 11, was recently one wrong move away from becoming the next Andy Lopez. Lopez, you will remember, was shot and killed by California police in October after being spotted playing with a gun that turned out be a toy replica AK-47. The two boys' stories are uncannily similar.
Pyrros was playing with a plastic handgun in a neighborhood alley when a concerned neighbor spotted the gun and called police. Pyrros had wrapped his fake gun in black duct tape, covering the bright orange tip designed to help onlookers differentiate between toy and real guns.
When police arrived at the alley, they jumped out of their cars with guns drawn.
“They told me to freeze in French and come here, so I put my hands up,” said Pyrros. “I was really scared.”
Elias’ mother Eva Drakos spoke to Global Montreal about what could have happened to her son had he not followed police orders.
“If he didn’t freeze and didn’t do what they said, they would have shot my child,” she said.
While Drakos is grateful that police didn’t shoot her son, she is upset about how officers handled the situation afterwards. Rather than talking to Elias and releasing him to his mother, officers put him in the back of a squad car for 20 minutes and wouldn’t let Drakos near him.
“They wouldn’t let me go near my child. He didn’t do anything wrong. I’m outraged, I’m furious that this could happen to an innocent 11-year-old child,” said Drakos.
Now, sixth grade Elias is having serious problems sleeping and concentrating in school. Staring down the barrel of a gun is traumatizing for anyone, let alone an 11-year-old.
“I can’t concentrate, I always think about when they were pointing guns at me,” Pyrros said. “The way they were pointing the guns at me, I was really terrified.”
His parents, while grateful their child is alive, are considering filing a complaint with the Montreal police ethics commission. Criminal defense attorney Eric Sutton says that although the officers did a good job not shooting the child, their handling of him afterwards was poor.
“Once they determined that, they should have proceeded with great dispatch to release him, explain maybe the risks perhaps even apologize for the trauma he must have felt but to then handcuff him and detain him is indefensible,” Sutton said.
Drakos, as you would hope, has said she will now throw away all of her children's toy guns.