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No charges issued for GRPD officer who shot at teen carrying a fake gun

On Sept. 6, a 14-year-old boy was walking around a Grand Rapids neighborhood carrying a replica gun.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said there will be no charges filed against a Grand Rapids Police Officer who shot at a 14-year-old boy on Sept. 6. The boy was not injured in the incident.

Police reports show that officers were dispatched around 6:30 p.m. to Howard Street near Madison Avenue on a report of a black male walking around with a gun. He was described as wearing a maroon shirt with yellow writing and black jeans and a black backpack.

According to a video on the Grand Rapids Information Network, GRPD Chief David Rahinsky said that the officer arrived to the scene within 90 seconds of receiving the call. When the officer got to Howard Street, he saw the boy pointing what appeared to be a real handgun at people on a porch in the neighborhood.

A report from one GRPD officer said that the officer said in a radio call that, "He's pointing the gun." The officer then fired one shot at the 14-year-old, and the bullet hit a tree. When other police officers arrived to the scene, the boy was laying on the ground obeying verbal commands from police.

The boy told another officer that he was not hurt, and he was also checked out by an ambulance.

Following the shooting, Michigan State Police arrived to investigate. It is GRPD's protocol to bring in an outside law enforcement agency for any officer-involved shooting. The findings of that investigation were passed along to the Kent County Prosecutor's Office. Prosecutor Chris Becker determined the shooting was justified. "I informed GRPD I would not be filing any charges," said Becker.

Rahinsky said he is thankful this incident did not result in tragedy, but he points out it is still a difficult situation.

"I think we've got at least two victims here. We have an officer placed in a position of having to make the life-altering decision to use deadly force. And we have the young man who was fired upon," said Rahinsky. "So, I don't want to diminish the life long repercussions on either of these two individuals."

Rahinsky says he talked with the mother of the teen involved shortly after the shooting. She was also concerned about all involved in the situation, her son and the officer. Rahinsky says the department plans to contact the mother again now that the Prosecutor has decided not to file charges.

On Monday, a video was published to the Grand Rapids Information Network's YouTube page. In it, Rahinsky talks about the shooting, and he issued a warning about the dangers of replica guns.

He said in the video that the pellet gun the boy was carrying was a replica Colt 1911 handgun.

"I would like to use this opportunity to stress to all citizens of Grand Rapids the importance of talking to your children about the dangers of these replica weapons," said Rahinsky in the video. "We want to make every effort to prevent a senseless tragedy from occurring."

Rahinsky says replica weapons are a nationwide problem and that law enforcement has decided the best way to address the issue is through education. The Washington Post reported that 86 people carrying fake guns that look real were killed by police in 2015 and 2016.

Rahinksy says Grand Rapids Police have removed 284 illegal guns from the streets so far in 2018, which is why officers have to respond to any weapon as if it is real until they can prove otherwise.

The officer involved in the shooting was placed on leave after the incident while MSP investigated. Rahinsky said he was still on leave as of Monday, Oct. 8.

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