Home / Be The Change / Filming Cops / Shocking Video Shows Cops Shoot 16 Times at Unarmed 15-yo Boy — But He Lived to Expose Them

Shocking Video Shows Cops Shoot 16 Times at Unarmed 15-yo Boy — But He Lived to Expose Them

Video footage has once again proven police frequently either assess a potential threat situation incorrectly or simply craft fictitious narratives to justify a wholly unnecessary use of force. Keston Charles miraculously survived being fired upon 16 times during a foot pursuit by the NYPD, who claimed the Brooklyn teen had drawn a weapon — but surveillance footage obtained exclusively by the New York Daily News proves the cops’ story was all but an outright lie.

On December 9, 2013, 15-year-old Charles had been armed only with a BB gun — which has drawn comparisons to the Cleveland police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014 — as he fled Officer Jonathan Rivera on foot.

Police had previously claimed Charles repeatedly took aim at Rivera with the BB gun, which the officer believed to be a real firearm — so Rivera, they said, had been justified in firing upon the teen 16 times.

But surveillance video flatly disputes that claim — showing that though Charles, indeed, ran from Rivera through a residential complex, he never once aimed the BB gun at the officer or acted in a threatening manner.

Charles was shot in the buttocks during the pursuit — then twice more, in the side and chest, after he dropped the fake weapon and was in the act of surrendering to police with his hands above his head, his lawyers stated.

“I put up my hands, they was still shooting,” Charles stated in a deposition, according to the Daily News.

Despite the particularly clear evidence captured on video, the city — as in, the police — still believe the footage proves its case.

“The officer’s claim that this young man repeatedly took aim at him with an unloaded toy gun not only defies logic, but it is blatantly contradicted by the video,” attorneys David Shanies, Phil Smallman, and Michael Colihan said in a statement quoted by the Daily News.

“What happened to Tamir Rice was a tragedy, and both cases are painful reminders of the urgent need to stop unjustified shootings of young African-Americans.”

To say this incident and its justification by police defies logic is quite the understatement. In fact, it would seem — as has been a pattern when video evidence disputes police claims — law enforcement attempts legerdemain through semantics, hoping the public will believe what they say to be true, not the facts as proven in the footage.

Officers Rivera and Kevin Franco observed Charles, a known gang member, snatching a BB gun from a rival during a dispute and pointing the toy weapon at another boy in December 2013.

During the ensuing foot pursuit, Rivera fired three separate volleys at Charles — 16 shots in total — as the chase wound its way through the Brownsville Houses, ending at the door to the teen’s building.

According to the Daily News, Elissa Jacobs, an attorney for the city, said in court documents Rivera fired because Charles “bladed,” or turned, his body sideways, angling toward police three times during the chase. Further, the teen “did not put his hands up to surrender before any round of shots.”

Surveillance video adamantly disputes this claim, showing Charles running with his back to officers, occasionally glancing over his shoulder. Although the teen did not initially put his hands up before being shot in the behind, Charles limps to his front door after being wounded — and then stops, putting his hands in the air, as Rivera continues firing.

The rounds are hitting the building behind him.
The rounds are hitting the building behind him.

Seriously wounded, Charles then slumps over a fence near the door, with his hands locked behind his head as a bevy of officers approach.

Shanies stated in court documents:

“(Rivera’s) bullets hit the building and created visible clouds of debris. (Charles) turned around with his hands on his head surrendering . . . One of Officer Rivera’s bullets struck (Charles) in the flank and another struck him in the chest.”

Even after being hit while surrendering, Charles somehow doesn’t reach for his wounds — which could have been distorted by police as reaching for a weapon or acting in a threatening manner — but instead continues to hold his hands above and behind his head, even as he falls to his knees.

In deposition, Charles explained his decision not to drop the BB gun was “[b]ecause I was scared for my life. I was trying to get away. I never been shot at before.”

And if the somewhat bumpy video evidence weren’t sufficiently plain to prove Charles’ defense on its own, his attorneys had Dr. Michael Baden, a renowned former New York City chief medical examiner, review physical evidence of the gunshot wounds and found “the bullet trajectories are consistent with Keston holding his arms up with his hands on top of his head as indicated in the video when he was shot in the chest.”

As the Daily News noted, the NYPD firearms discharge review board found the shooting in line with departmental policy regarding the use of deadly force, and thus the shooting, justified.

Charles’ excessive force lawsuit is based on the sheer number of shots fired — Rivera emptied the clip in his 9-mm service weapon. The teen had to be placed in a medically-induced coma for three weeks and endured surgery. Ultimately, he pled guilty to possession of a fake pistol.

Although the city claims Charles pointed the BB gun at Rivera, and that because the teen was only hit thrice out of 16 total shots fired, it proves “how fast he continued to move and that the threat to public safety had not been abated.”

Rivera, the city insists, continued firing until Charles no longer posed an imminent threat.

What possible imminent threat a fleeing teenager with an empty toy gun posed to public safety is entirely unclear in that particular argument — but it’s a veritable guarantee that narrative will be the crux of this case.

As with any police shooting, the details will undoubtedly be hashed out in the public sphere, debated endlessly, and draw in extraneous details such as the fact Charles was a gang member. But it’s imperative, rather than dissecting ad nauseum details of no import in the matter, to view video as it happened — which clearly shows a surrendering 15-year-old still being fired upon by a trigger-happy cop.

And there is no justification for that.

  • IceTrey

    “found the shooting in line with departmental policy regarding the use of deadly force”

    There’s your problem.

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      • Mikabezon

        Fuck you!

  • Someone22

    The officer should be required to attend a shooting school until his accuracy and efficiency improve. This is a ridiculous waste of lead without a kill. Until the officer can prove he has the ability to place lead accurately, he should be on desk duty.

    • SummerSierra11

      He should have been chasing you!

    • Hugh Culliton

      Don’t quit your day job.

    • Michael Stier

      Are you fucking retarded? He should be fired and tried for assault with a deadly weapon at the very least.

      • Someone22

        Not at all. A reprimand and proper training on effective lead placement should help this fine public servant.

    • Elle

      I see a big establishment cock in your mouth. Yummy!? Slave get off your knees. Actually I think you must like it. As long as it’s consensual I suppose!! SMILE

      • Someone22

        Um…. slut.

        • Hugh Culliton

          Weak retort.

          • Someone22

            I know. Perhaps something calling her cum-drunk or a coxsucker would have been more appropriate.

          • Hugh Culliton

            No…no it wouldn’t.

        • meconiummm

          low effort reply

  • rioderek

    They should have been fired for dishonesty. The tape proved they lied. That same incident can now be used in any case involving those rogues to illustrate the fact they are documented liars

    • capemh

      “Ultimately, he pled guilty to possession of a fake pistol.” So, any toy gun is illegal in New York? Just owning it? Wow.

      • billdeserthills

        I can see it now “The dangerous felon was found in possession of 8 fingers and 2 thumbs & a pop tart which he had used his teeth upon, in order to fashion a dangerous looking weapon, the barrel of which was not painted red”

      • P. Douglas

        Whereas peppering a human being and a building containing other human beings with 16 rounds from a real gun is totally legal and even encouraged, because public safety.

  • Meanwhile across the pond…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwFu0wZ6Igg

    • meconiummm

      Kid pulls a gun, moves it forward and then throws it. Cop with gun pointed at him the entire time fires a total of 0 rounds. Is this because this cop is not an American coward?

  • Not pro Israel

    It’s just another execution of a black kid.

    • Jonny Alpha

      They missed. Mostly.

  • NickDavisGB

    Sadly, the police are just asking for another ambush shooting.

    • Chris Mathers

      I won’t be sad when it happens though lol

  • Elle

    Cops are costing already strained city budgets a lot of money. The money doled out in cases to victims could otherwise go towards shelters for the homeless, education programs which are suffering, all sorts of community building mechanisms. Instead the money goes to victims of police abuses. Millions and millions. I know there are some cases where the so called ‘victims’ are repeat criminal offenders with long criminal records who are in no way innocent, they have a degree of responsibility in the situation, but there are too many cases like this one. It’s a hot mess. I want the discussion to also involve the rampant abuse of cavity search policy, the confiscation of cash during traffic stops, the every day excessive force (I know numerous people who were beaten by cops during ‘routine’ traffic stops), the coercion of sex by cops perpetrated upon sex workers, so many cases that never get reported and never make headlines. The problem is far worse than shootings.

    • DixieChick

      Yep to all of the above, the problem is far worse than shootings…so true.

    • billdeserthills

      Think it’s bad now, just wait till those same idiot cops are using real military weapons

    • Jeffboy

      Can you imagine the medical bill!

  • Greg Geitner

    its time for the citizenry to stand and give as good as the terror we are being subjected to.

  • Wendy Colby

    I am sorry TFTP but this time I can’t jump aboard as I usually do.This guy was a known gang member and a toy gun in his hands could easily be thought a threat at first,Then him running made it look even more that the gun was real.16 shots is alot but they mostly missed so it only shows they are lousy shots.I can’t blame the police for being afraid this time.Nothing like Tamir who was alone just standing there never ran never moved.

    • Exitiabilis

      Yeah I am afraid of people running away from me all the time, too.

      • Mona Carmona

        LOL..i think the justification here was not that the police were scared for their lives of the kid running away- they were more afraid of a known gang member having a gun (at the time they didn’t know it was a toy gun) and causing harm to others. Of course, I don’t agree with their actions..the kid had his hands up and they continued to shoot..which is wrong. We have trigger happy cops..they like to shoot black people. smh.

    • hang3xc

      The problem is the 2 shots fired AFTER he had been hit once and SURRENDERED with his hands above his head. Once the hands go up and someone has surrendered, cops need to STOP SHOOTING. They don’t get to just finish someone off because they are angry at having had to chase someone. It’s amazing his 13 MISSED shots didn’t kill innocent people.

    • Constitutionyoucunt

      Wendy Colby, did you even watch the video? SMH

    • Jay Paradiso

      You may have done the same.But then you arent a supposedly trained police officer . We have the right to expect more than a knee jerk shoot from the hip reaction from trained police officers

  • Steve Rusk

    No doubt the cops are disappointed because they didn’t manage to kill him.

  • elizabeth borden

    There are other people in this area. Anyone of those bystanders could have been shot. How can this be okay?

  • James Michael

    Psychopathic habitually lying scumbag traitors….

  • Bud

    Can’t we create “citizen review boards?”
    Kind of like doing Jury Duty but on the police review board?
    The Police Union keeps getting these guys off on blatant criminal actions.