As the Holiday Season approaches this year, the family of Tyre King is anticipating a very rough time in their lives. “Tyre was one of the best parts of the holidays,” according to Dearrea King, Tyre’s maternal grandmother. “His birthday is December 7 so he was born right around the holidays. He was always such a joy to be around. He made it fun to prepare for the season because he was always excited about spending time with family and eating all that good food.”
This year, Tyre’s family is having difficulty celebrating the same way they did last year. 13-year-old Tyre was shot and killed by Columbus Police Officer Bryan Mason a little over nine weeks ago, on September 14, 2016. Tyre King’s family ordered an independent medical examination of Tyre’s body and the independent examiner, Dr. Francisco Diaz, determined that Tyre was more than likely running away at the time of the shooting. The Franklin County Coroner’s office recently ruled the killing a homicide in its November 10, 2016 official autopsy.
The Columbus Police Department initially presented a narrative that Tyre was involved in a robbery before the homicide and was brandishing a weapon. The “weapon” was determined to be a BB gun. Numerous reports surfaced that 19-year-old Demetrius Braxton was involved in the robbery along with other unidentified individuals. The official police report following the robbery listed two suspects, neither of whom matched the description of Tyre.
On November 22, 2016, Braxton was sentenced to three years in prison for one count of robbery as part of a plea agreement in which he promised to testify against others allegedly involved in the robbery. In exchange for Braxton’s testimony, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien has stated that Braxton will not be charged in Tyre’s death. As the Columbus Dispatch reports, “Ohio law allows prosecutors to bring a murder charge against a defendant if an accomplice dies while they are committing or fleeing from a crime. O’Brien’s office typically does so.”
The family of Tyre King also does not place blame on Demetrius Braxton for Tyre’s death. The person that pulled the trigger and shot Tyre is Officer Bryan Mason. The family questions why Braxton’s plea deal did not require his cooperation in testifying against the officer as well. The public should remain focused on making sure that a full, independent investigation, is conducted into the death of Tyre, and calling for O’Brien to hold officers accountable for the unjustifiable use of lethal force.
In Columbus, as in most cities, an officer can only shoot someone if he has a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious physical harm. Tyre King was a 13-year-old child of small stature who was more than likely running AWAY from Officer Mason at the time of the shooting. The family continues to question how it can be established that Officer Mason had a reasonable fear of imminent death in such a scenario.
Braxton has consistently stated that Tyre was running away from Officer Mason when he was shot and killed. He has also stated that Officer Mason used racial slurs directed at Braxton and Tyre after the shooting. These allegations alone should spur the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office into a full-scale investigation, and to call in the Justice Department to investigate the potential civil rights violations.
The family stands with the community in asking for the City of Columbus and Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office to take proactive steps to ensure that Officer Mason’s actions and alleged racial slurs are fully investigated and that the Columbus Police Department is not involved in that investigation.
Walton + Brown, LLP.
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