Los Angeles News

Teen shot by sheriff's deputy speaks out

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A boy riding his bicycle Sunday night in Palmdale waving a toy gun was shot by sheriff's deputies. Deputies say the boy was ordered to drop the gun, but instead he pointed it at them.

That 15-year-old boy is now recovering from his wounds and telling a far different story of what happened in Palmdale Sunday night. The official account Tuesday: He was released from the hospital after being treated for a bullet wound in the back.

His name is William, and he is just out of the hospital with a bullet wound in his back. His last name won't be used because of his age. William says he had a toy gun and was playing "cops and robbers" with his friends in his Palmdale neighborhood Sunday. When a patrol car drove up and a deputy yelled for him to drop the gun, William says he complied.

William says he was "like a couple of inches" away from the deputy. William says the deputy pulled up right next to him while he was still on his bicycle. William says he dropped the toy gun right away. When he dropped the game, William says, the deputy shot him.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department says its deputy thought the gun was real and that William aimed it at him before he was shot.

"We got frantic calls that an individual was brandishing a weapon," said Steve Whitmore, spokesman, L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. "We gave pronounced, clear directions that were not complied with."

The weapon turned out to be at toy replica of a semiautomatic weapon and did not have the orange tip that usually designates a toy gun.

Attorney Adam Sacks represents William's family. He says he can understand the misidentification of the toy but cannot understand why his client was shot after he dropped the gun, and he claims that the deputy actually fired a second shot.

"He was bleeding and then officer said to him, 'Get up against the wall.' He complied, he put his hands up against the wall, and then they shot him again," said Sacks. "And apparently the second bullet missed."

The Sheriff's Dept. disputes that a second shot was fired and that William immediately dropped the gun. But it says the shooting is being investigated by several independent agencies.

"Everything will be illuminated, everything will be forthcoming in this investigation," said Whitmore.

William's grandmother is his guardian. She says he is a little slow but is a good boy and never in trouble.

"They were playing... with the little kids from down the street, so no, no guns are allowed at my house," said Kim, William's grandmother.

Attorney Sacks says the shooting was completely unjustified, and he says he plans to file a damage claim against the Sheriff's Dept. within the next couple of weeks.

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