Sometimes, if not frequently, the truth in fatal shootings by law enforcement comes not from police, but from witnesses to the incident — and in how authorities behave after the fact.
For a week — and, more broadly, over the course of years — the highly dubious deaths of three individuals at the hands of perpetually-frightened police ripped open scars leftover from America’s violently racist past, bleeding the protests and riots symptomatic of a wound that might never heal.
Under questionable circumstances still flaring factious public division, police stole the lives of Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott, the latter sparking peaceful protests later turned so violent on the streets of Charlotte, one reporter from an albeit conservative outlet likened the scene to the military assault on the West Bank by Israel.
Tyre King, a 13-year-old boy whose life ended prematurely at the hands of Columbus, Ohio, police — admittedly after the commission of a crime — has been secondarily summarily executed by press and public, alike, due to the circumstances of his killing.
However, a great deal remains outside the public’s gaze, beyond the perfunctory and lackadaisical, irresponsible press narrative — and that omission speaks to a good ‘ole boys network above the Mason-Dixon intent to paint itself in a brilliant white light often associated with innocence, when indeed its actions after killing a child are more akin to whitewash.
After all, Officer Bryan Mason — having just fired three shots into King’s slight pre-adolescent body — called his victim a fraught racial slur. Then turned to the victim’s friends detained on the cement, looked them in the eyes, and said the same to them — knowing the irresponsible press wouldn’t bother repeating words of young criminals whose lives whole segments of the country value less.
But they do matter. To families. Communities. Friends. The future. And for that, this case must be laid bare for what it is — and what it certainly is not.
Thanks to a source who, for the safety of individuals involved and integrity of legal proceedings ongoing, asked not to be named, The Free Thought Project has been given vital information pertaining to the death of Tyre King, the robbery which led Mason to use lethal force, and a series of events and circumstances afterward which show an authoritarian law enforcement body siding with the aforementioned segment putting prejudicial little value on young lives.
On Wednesday, September 14, Tyre King, 19-year-old Demetrius Braxton, and a small group of teens putatively robbed a man at gunpoint on South 18th near Madison Street in Columbus. According to police, media, and Braxton, who later admitted to being “in the situation” when a man was robbed, the group demanded money and stole just $10 from their victim. King had in his possession a BB gun, styled to resemble an actual revolver.
Responding to a 911 call from the victim, Mason detained the small group, fatally shooting King shortly afterward.
These indisputable points are established. But nearly all other subsequent details spewed by police through media bullhorns, however — no matter their redundant hammering — aren’t. Indeed, portions of that narrative spouted as fact are instead highly problematic, if not wholly contrary to the truth.
First, as calls from witnesses to the robbery poured into Columbus police dispatch, the actual victim dialed 911 to clarify that — despite alarmed bystanders — he had simply walked away, and didn’t feel the need for law enforcement to respond, at all. After the dispatcher confirms the location, the victim reiterates,
“I’m not gonna mess with it over ten dollars.”
Pressing the seemingly unconcerned caller, the dispatcher continues to cull a description of the perpetrator — as if the black and white letter of the law took precedence over the victim’s desire to pursue charges. Despite having what he perceived to be a real weapon pointed at his head, audio doesn’t evidence a panicked individual — rather someone who couldn’t care less about a stolen $10.
An officer nevertheless is deployed in response to the victim’s non-complaint, and discovers the group of boys nearby. What happened next is the crux of the issue — though not the whole of it — and has been treated as steel fact by public and media, alike, despite troubling disputable points.
Officer Mason arrives on scene and detains King, Braxton, and the group, immediately ordering them to ground. They all comply — but King jumps up and attempts to flee the scene. These, also, are established facts.
At this point, police and mainstream narrative diverge sharply from the youths’ accounts — and logic, rather than a badge of authority, backs their claims.
Mason and the department say when King made the fateful decision to run, he then brandished the life-like BB gun at the officer — forcing him to fire at the child, as he feared for his life and the lives of those in the neighborhood.
While that account might justify deadly force, two believability issues arise.
First, as Braxton told authorities and the Columbus Dispatch in days following the shooting, after being commanded onto the ground by Mason,
“We got down, but my friend got up and ran … [and] when he ran, the cop shot him.”
His account has not changed. In a comment the day after the shooting posted to Facebook from an account confirmed to be the teen’s by the source, Braxton insists not only did the 13-year-old never brandish the BB gun at the cop, he never pulled it from his person at all.
Far more telling of questionable police accounts of the shooting, Braxton noted, after gunning down King, Mason eyed his young victim and called him a
Then contemptuously turned to Braxton, whose friend had just been shot multiple times, and repeated the “stupid n**ger” slur.
According to the source, who, again, is close to the case, Braxton has not deviated from this claim and that source found the statement to be believable.
Columbus police maintain King turned and pointed the weapon, but an independent forensic pathologist who examined the gunshot wounds — measurements of entry and exit angles, characteristics, and so on — found all three bullets entered when the boy had his back to the shooter. This makes brandishing and aiming a weapon a near impossibility.
Besides the witness account and the damning physical evidence, at least a modicum of logic must be entertained, as well.
What person in their right mind would bring a toy gun to a gunfight?
King tried to flee — not commit suicide by cop. Why would a 13-year-old point a less-than lethal weapon at an officer who could instantly end his young life? Gymnastics of logic would have to be undertaken to rationalize such a move.
No sensible person — particularly not a street smart youth — would tempt police to use deadly force when it takes so little for it to be employed.
Demetrius Braxton has now been charged with armed robbery — however, faces a potential life sentence if prosecutors opportune the controversial killing as a way to teach an unnecessary lesson for stealing $10 from a person who didn’t want the youths even pursued in the first place.
Braxton, as well as the others present for the armed robbery, could be charged with the murder of their friend — instead of the officer who actually killed him — because the chain of events happened as the result of the commission of a crime.
Though legal analysts believe this avenue highly doubtful, police have made intimations the charge is coming — and given the indefatigable lengths police and the media have undertaken to eviscerate the youths reputations in the public spotlight, it certainly isn’t a remote possibility.
Unless the indescribably imperative details outlined in this article force a sway in public opinion and increase the vehemence of calls for justice in the killing of 13-year-old Tyre King and fair prosecution of Demetrius Braxton can convince police and prosecutors to relent, force an investigation independent of Columbus Police — and face the fact one young life ended prematurely and another hangs in the balance — for a crime no one wanted to “mess with” from the very beginning.
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