Police shooting of teen with BB gun draws small protest

Police shooting of teen with BB gun inspired small protest of police brutality

Two days after a Baltimore police officer shot an eighth-grader who was carrying a BB gun, two dozen protesters gathered Friday evening at the East Baltimore spot where he was wounded.

Members of the group took turns at a microphone to decry what they said was police brutality. Some waved yellow signs reading "Shooting a 13 year old kid! BPD No Excuses!" Others carried signs recalling Sandra Bland, the a Texas woman who was found hanged in a jail cell in Texas last year, and Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old Cleveland boy who was fatally shot by police in 2014 after brandishing a pellet gun.

Lee Patterson came from Dundalk to join the rally and brief march from Aisquith Street, where Dedric Colvin was shot Wednesday afternoon, to police headquarters.

"We're against blue-on-black crime," he said.

Baltimore police, meanwhile, continued to investigate the circumstances that led to the shooting. The department provided no updates on its investigation Friday.

According to police, Officer Thomas Smith and another officer, whose name police have not released, were leaving an intelligence briefing at police headquarters downtown when they saw Dedric walking in the 1100 block of E. Baltimore St. with a basketball in one hand and what appeared to be a semiautomatic pistol in the other hand.

The pair of officers were not in uniform, but police say they identified themselves and told the boy to stop. The boy ran about 150 yards, turning up Aisquith Street near a community center, police say.

A witness has told police that the boy then stopped and raised the gun, but police said it's unclear in which direction the gun was pointed or what the boy might have said.

Since the shooting, top police officials have defended the officers' actions. They emphasized that the Daisy brand PowerLine Model 340 spring-air pistol, which shoots BBs, looks like a real Beretta semiautomatic pistol.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis has said Smith had little choice but to shoot.

"If a person is seen walking down a city street with one of those in his hand, what [does the community] want police to do?" Davis asked Thursday. "What do they expect us to do? Drive by?"

Dedric's family is represented attorney William H. "Billy" Murphy Jr., who did not respond to a request for comment Friday. Murphy also represented the family of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old Baltimore man who died last April after suffering a severe spinal injury in police custody.

Earlier in the week, Dedric's mother, Volanda Young, told The Baltimore Sun that her son ran from police because he was scared.

Dedric was being treated for gunshot wounds to his leg and shoulder at Johns Hopkins Hospital's pediatric intensive-care unit. His condition was not disclosed Friday night. His family was not present at Friday night's rally.

The small group of demonstrators protesting the shooting described the incident as another example of police brutality against young black men.

According to police, Dedric is 13; his family says he is 14.

After taking turns at a bullhorn to decry police brutality, the demonstrators marched from the intersection of East Baltimore Street and Asquith Street up to Fayette Street and west to police headquarters.

They marched to chants of "Tell the truth and stop the lies, our black children don't have to die!" and "No justice, no peace! Jail racist police!"

Two black police SUVs trailed behind to hold back traffic as the marchers walked in the middle of the street. Uniformed officers on foot directed traffic at the busy intersection of Fayette and President streets.

At police headquarters, some participants launched curse-filled taunts at police standing guard, while others chanted and tried to draw the attention of rush-hour commuters. After a short demonstration, the group disbanded.

Sharon Black, an organizer with the Peoples Power Assembly, said Dedric was nearly killed.

If he had been white and wealthy, she said, police never would have fired on him.

"He's just fortunate to be alive," she said. "The next 13-year-old might not be so lucky."

pwood@baltsun.com

twitter.com/pwoodreporter

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