Thursday, September 25, 2014

Black Teen,14, Killed for Allegedly Wielding BB Gun (video)

Tuesday evening, Houma, Louisiana, deputies shot and killed 14-year-old Cameron Tillman when the teen opened a door while allegedly holding a BB gun. The shooting occurred less than 24 hours before an Ohio grand jury declined to indict police officers who shot to death John Crawford III, a black man who was holding a BB gun in a Walmart that he found on the store's shelves. He was talking on the phone when he was killed.

The deupty shot Tillman four times. WDSU reports a spontaneous memorial for the slain youth grows outside the house in which he was shot. His blood still stains the floorboards.

According to the Associated Press, the stories about what happened Tuesday evening differ. The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's office tells their version; teens who witnessed the killing tell another.
". . .  the sheriff says, he [Tillman] flung open a door brandishing a BB gun made to look like a Sig Sauer .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol. Relatives of other teens who were there when Cameron Tillman was killed Tuesday evening say that's not true. (AP)
Witnesses say Tillman was not holding the BB gun, and the gun was on a table in the middle of the room when the deputy fired first directly at Tillman and then fired more shots through the door when Tillman quickly shut it. The teens say that the deputy did not announce himself, and that Tillman opened the door because he thought it was a friend.

Perhaps taking a page from how the police handled the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Sheriff Jerry Larpenter defends the shooting and has not yet identified the seven-year police force veteran who killed Tillman, reports the Houma Courier:
"He knocked on the door and said 'Sheriff's Office, come out.' A very short time after, Tillman threw the door open brandishing that gun toward the officer. The officer feared for his life, and, unfortunately, the individual was shot four times," Larpenter claims. "He (Tillman) turned that gun toward the deputy, and that deputy had to shoot or assume he would be shot." (via Courier)
The police were called by a neighbor who reported seeing young men brandishing weapons, says the sheriff's office. (I don't fault people for calling when they see groups of people with guns, but I also know that Louisiana has some of the loosest gun laws in the country, and since the teens were indoors, I wonder what the neighbor saw.)

The Associated press reports that Larpenter is no longer giving interviews.

Unfortunately for this nation and young Tillman's family, we've all seen this show before. When will we stop the encores?

In related news, Police Chief Tom Jackson apologized via video today to the family of Mike Brown Jr. for how long Brown's body was left in the street, and he said he's realized that some African-Americans mistrust the police department and he hopes to do better.

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