Florida officials ruled that a fatal officer shooting of a teen holding an airsoft rifle with a “faded orange tip” was justified, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
Alex King, 16, pointed the airsoft rifle at cars and officers who responded to the scene on Oct. 16 in Tarpon Springs, Florida, according to the AP. King ignored orders to drop the gun and an investigation into the incident found the officers were acting within their duties.
Officers couldn’t see the “faded orange tip” on the airsoft gun from a distance, according to a letter Pinellas-Pasco County State Attorney Bruce Bartlett wrote to Tarpon Springs Police Chief Jeffrey Young, the AP reported. The seven officers involved in the incident, including the two who shot King, won’t be named.
King allegedly pointed the airsoft rifle at the first officer who responded to the incident, according to the AP. The officer said he heard King yell, “shoot me, shoot me,” as he called for backup.
Officers who responded to the backup call said they shot King four times because they were afraid he would fire his weapon, the AP reported. King was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Witness video shows King pulling the slide back and charging the airsoft rifle, according to the AP.
King reportedly had a history of physical assault of school resource officers, students and employees, according to the AP. He was taken out of Tarpon Springs High School because of a sheriff’s office threat report in 2019 that he was drawing guns, knives, swastikas and German soldiers in addition to enjoying making his classmates uncomfortable.
King suffered from several mental health conditions and was hospitalized against his will seven times, the AP reported. His sister, Kelly Greenawald, said he threatened to kill himself the night of the incident.
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