It is September 16, 2016 and Tyre King, a 13-year old boy, is going about his business. On his waist is a BB gun he carries around to scare off bullies. As it normally happens whenever a black man sees a police officer, he would start running and Officer Bryan Mason of Columbus Police Department would run after him and corner him into an alley. Instinctively, King would go for his toy gun. Fearing that his life was in danger, Officer Mason would shoot and kill the boy instantly. Such a sad story!
Apparently, this was not the first time Officer Mason had shot at somebody. Back in 2012, he mortally wounded another man but his superiors cleared him of any wrongdoing but went on to send him on an administrative leave. That he shot Tyre King multiple times even after the boy went down has raised a lot of questions.
The public quickly took sides in the matter with some rallying behind the officer and others behind the boy. The black community in Columbus went as far as comparing the death of Tyre King to that of another black boy, Tamir Rice, a 12-year old who was shot dead in 2012 by the police at a park in Cleveland while playing with a pellet gun.
As unfortunate as this incidence is, the grand jury that was listening to the case declined to indict Officer Mason, finding that his actions were justified as he had no way of verifying that the gun brandished by King was a BB.
Fearing public protests, a statement by Mayor Andrew J. Ginther regretted the death of the 13 year old and called on the residents of Columbus to work with the police in order to end the bloodshed and bring hope.
Many instances such as this do not end in satisfaction with the justice system. In this case, for example, the attorney representing the King family called the process “flawed”. He went on to say that he was not surprised by the jury decision since the case ought to have been investigated independently without the involvement of the county prosecutor and the Columbus Police Department.
“It is a sad day in our community. We have lost a child in our community and the decision by the jury serves t reminds us of the loss.” Stated a statement by the Columbus County Council after the decision was communicated to the court. The police department remained mum on whether the grand jury had preferred charges against the officer or not.
Moving forward, the county council has initiated programs that will aggressively bring an end to violence in the community. The programs seek to bring harmonious relationship between the criminal justice system and the community.
The BB gun that got Tyler killed.
The community has a role to play in mitigating violence. Why would a 13-year old find it necessary to carry a replica of police gun in the neighborhood? Is it because he feels unsafe and wants to protect himself from bullies? What are parents doing about bullying tendencies among their children?
Do people support and care about the cops whose life is in danger every day trying to protect the community? Sometimes the officers feel their lives are threatened hence the haste on pulling the trigger. This is not an excuse to kill an unarmed thirteen year old though.
Bryan Mason, the officer involved in the Tyler King shooting
Unless the root cause of police brutality is addressed, the emotional toll on families such as that of Tyler King and the continued ostracization of police officers will continue into the foreseeable future.