Columbus, Ohio(AP)- Witnesses say that the white police officer who killed 13-year-old Tyre King used a racial slur after firing and that a toy gun that the child had wasn’t visible when the confrontation occurred, according to a federal lawsuit filed Friday on the second anniversary of the shooting.
The lawsuit filed by Tyre’s Grandmother challenges that account, characterizing his death as a result of excessive force, racial discrimination and an alleged failure by the police to properly investigate and discipline officers for racially motivated or unconstitutional behavior.
Officer Bryan Mason, Police Chief Kim Jacobs, and the city are named as defendants in the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.
Police say Tyre was in a group of young men that robbed a man of $10 at gunpoint, and Officer Mason was just responding.
Mason previously told investigators that Tyre tried to pull what appeared to be a real firearm from his waistband and said he fired at the teen when he saw a laser sight on the weapon and feared being shot. It turned out to be a BB gun that police later determined was inoperable.
Mason also said the teen didn’t comply with the officer’s command to “get down”.
A grand jury voted not to indict the officer, which prompted protests in Columbus and became part of a national discussion about the police killings of black males.
Mason had been involved in three previous shootings and had been cleared of wrongdoing in each case, including another fatality.
Records show that Tyre was shot three times, including in the head and torso. An attorney for his family has argued the results indicate he was running away and wasn’t a threat when he was shot.
A forensic pathologist who examined his body for his family reached the same conclusion.