A 16-year-old boy was left paralyzed after he was shot by a police officer Saturday night in St. Louis, Missouri, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Brandon Claxton, who is black, was shot three times by a white officer, police said. He was holding a gun and pointed it at the officer, police claim. Claxton suffered a graze wound to his head and gunshot wounds to the arm and abdomen.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Say the Officer Feared for His Safety After Claxton Refused to Drop the Gun
St. Louis Police said in a press release that the incident began Saturday morning when a woman reported that a gun had been stolen from her home. She called police that night and said she saw a man she believed to be in possession of the stolen gun. Several officers responded to Hodiamont Avenue.
The officers said that when they arrived, at about 7:15 p.m., they saw the suspect, later identified as Brandon Claxton, and another person running toward them. Claxton and the other person then turn to run in the opposite direction. The teens change of direction took them toward other officers, who said they saw Claxton running at them with what they thought was a gun in his hand, police said.
“The officer told the suspect to drop the gun and the suspect refused,” police said. “Fearing for his safety, the officer fired his department-issued weapon at the suspect, striking him.”
Claxton was taken into custody and then to the hospital. Police said a .40 caliber gun was found at the scene, believed to be the one the woman reported stolen Saturday morning.
The officer, a 29-year-old white male with seven years of service, was put on administrative leave, per department policy. The shooting is being investigated by the Force Investigative Unit.
The officer was the only one to fire shots, and police believe he fired four times. He was about 15 to 20 feet away, Police Chief Sam Dotson said, based on video that shows the shooting. The video has not been released because the investigation is ongoing, Dotson said. He said the gun officers recovered was loaded, and had a bullet in the chamber.
“An individual, with a stolen gun, is running towards officers, and an officer used deadly force because he thought it was a situation where deadly force was authorized, was needed,” Dotson said at a press conference. “And nobody else was injured. So you can say ‘what if, what if,’ let’s look at the facts of what happened tonight.”
2. Witnesses Say Claxton ‘Didn’t Point the Gun’ at the Officer
Witnesses told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that they didn’t see Claxton point the gun at the officers.
“If he had a gun, he didn’t point it at him,” Rita Collins told the newspaper. “Cameras don’t lie. If they look at the cameras they will see the truth.”
She said two other officers didn’t shoot, and the officer who did “shot that boy for no reason.”
Witnesses told the Post-Dispatch that there were 30 people in the area of the shooting, and some were in the line of fire. A little girl ran from the scene and left her shoes behind, Collins told the newspaper.
“The boy fell where the little girl was playing by the slide. Her shoes was right there,” Collins said. “He was wrong for shooting around those kids when the boy did not pose a threat. They can’t protect no one — that’s putting them in harm’s way.”
3. His Mother Says She Hasn’t Been Able to See Her Son
Police said Claxton is listed in serious, but stable, condition. His mother told the Post-Dispatch that he was paralyzed by the shooting. His mother, Antoinette Liggins, said she hasn’t been able to see him because he is in police custody.
She told KSDK that the bullet went through his stomach and hit his spine, so he’ll never walk again.
Claxton’s brother, Anthony, was with him at the scene and was arrested on a probation violation.
Liggins said her son “shouldn’t have had the gun,” but told the Post-Dispatch, “They didn’t have to shoot him down like that.”
4. His Sister Was Killed in a Shooting in 2008
Liggins told the Post-Dispatch that her daughter, Brenda Liddell, was killed in a shooting when she was 14. Liddell was sitting on her porch when she was shot by accident, the newspaper reports.
A 15-year-old boy was charged with reckless homicide in the shooting and was released at 18.
5. Protesters Gathered Outside the Police Headquarters & Some Were Arrested
Protesters gathered outside the St. Louis Police headquarters Sunday night to protest the shooting and demand answers to questions they and Claxton’s family have about what happened.
According to reports on Twitter, police made several arrests.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday that nine people, eight adults and a juvenile, were arrested during the protest.
Police told the newspaper seven were arrested for impeding the flow of traffic and two for failure to disperse. Four were also charged with resisting arrest and had pepper spray used on them. One was taken to the hospital after complaining of an elevated heart rate after being sprayed, police said.