03/15/2008

Minn. police shoot boy with fake gun

By Mara H. Gottfried
Pioneer Press

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Minneapolis police shot and wounded 15-year-old boy who pointed a replica firearm at them in an alley shortly after midnight today, police said.

 You have to assume every gun is real. Why would someone point a toy gun at us?
Dave Smih
Lead Street Survival Instructor
Just before 12:30 a.m., officers on patrol near Lake Street East and Park Avenue saw a car that had been carjacked at gunpoint two days earlier, Sgt. William Palmer said. They tried to stop the car, but it went into an alley.

Three people inside the car fled.

Two officers and a K-9 officer began searching for them and shortly after, a male suspect with what appeared to be a handgun confronted them behind 2907 S. Park Ave., police said.

To protect themselves, officers shot the suspect, Palmer said. After the shooting police discovered the weapon was a replica, he said.

The teen was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center with a non-life threatening injury to the side of his face, Palmer said.

Police didn't name the teen, but his brother identified him as Jamil Perkins, of Maplewood.

A doctor at Hennepin County Medical Center called Perkins' mother about 8:30 a.m. Friday and said police had shot her son and he was in stable condition, said Delaneo Tillman, who said he is Perkins' brother. Perkins' mother asked if she could go visit him and the doctor said, "no," and that he was under police guard.

Regarding the police account of Perkins being armed, Tillman said, "I know that not to be my little brother's character. That's why I want my mother to get up there so he can tell her what really happened."

Perkins' mother would have been told she couldn't see the teen because he is in police custody on suspicion of assault on a police officer, Palmer said.

Police did not release the names of the officers involved. The officers are on standard paid administrative leave.

The other two suspects were later caught — a 17-year-old female passenger who was questioned and released, and a 16-year-old male driver, who was booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of fleeing police in a motor vehicle and driving a stolen motor vehicle, Palmer said.

Palmer said police are seeing more replica firearms in street confrontations.

"Last night a young man almost lost his life because he was carrying one of these weapons," he said.

Palmer showed reporters this afternoon four guns from the police property room. All appeared to be real. Three were fakes.

Police can't tell the difference without picking them up, "especially in the dark and in an alley," Palmer said.

Rhoda Fukushima contributed to this report.

Copyright 2008 Pioneer Press

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