Police release video of officer shooting 14-year-old boy in Oklahoma City
The family of a teenage boy shot by Oklahoma City police is speaking out against the department and the officer who has returned to duty after being cleared by the district attorney last month.
Lorenzo Clerkley, 14, was shot twice, in the hip and thigh, March 10 by Sgt. Kyle Holcomb when officers responded to a 911 call of a home burglary. Clerkley and four other teenage boys were playing with air guns in an abandoned house near SE 59 and Bryant Avenue.
“I think it’s a cap gun, but they are shooting something off,” Holcomb said into his radio as he approached the house, according to a body camera video released by police on Tuesday.
Clerkley hopped out a window near where Holcomb was standing on the other side of a tattered fence.
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Holcomb, with his handgun pointed through a hole in the fence, ordered the boy to show his hands and drop his weapon and then fired four shots, striking the boy twice.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater declined to charge Holcomb, saying the officer’s body camera footage showed his use of deadly force was lawful.
“Police officers are not required to be shot before they can exercise deadly force to defend themselves,” Prater said in a statement to The Oklahoman. “The suspect who exited the window had an object in his hand that appeared to be a firearm. The suspect turned toward Sgt. Holcomb with the weapon in his hand, and Holcomb shot the suspect in self-defense.”
After he was cleared, Holcomb returned to active duty. The Oklahoma City Police Department said an internal investigation is ongoing, which is usual policy for an officer-involved shooting.
Clerkley’s family said in a statement on Tuesday that the boy’s hands were by his side, and only his head was turned toward the opening in the fence.
The family said Clerkley never verbally or physically threatened the officer.
“It is well-established that police officers must give citizens sufficient time to comply with commands before using deadly force,” the family said in a statement through their attorney. “It is galling that any moderately trained police officer, let alone a supervisor like Holcomb, would shoot a citizen, here, a nonviolent 14-year-old child, under these circumstances.”
A still image from the officer’s body camera appears to show Clerkley had his upper body turned toward the hole in the fence with his arms at his side. Prater said a dark portion of the image at the end of Clerkley’s right arm indicates he was holding his gun when he turned toward Holcomb.
Police photos at the scene show a gun laying on the ground near the open window.
“The suspect in the case was the one in control of when the officer felt the need to fire when (he) immediately turned toward the officer with the pistol in his hand,” Prater said in an interview with The Oklahoman. “The officer had a reasonable belief that he was about to be shot.”
Daniel Smolen, the family’s attorney, said the evidence he has reviewed indicates a “clear Fourth Amendment violation.”
The family is contemplating a lawsuit against Holcomb and the city of Oklahoma City for a violation of Clerkley’s right to due process, said Smolen, who is a civil rights attorney from Tulsa.
A successful lawsuit also could assist the family with Clerkley’s medical costs, as the boy has no health insurance, Smolen said. They had recently moved from Texas and didn’t have the opportunity to register Clerkley for Medicaid in Oklahoma.
The family called for a “culture change” among Oklahoma City police.
“We now seek all of the answers,” the family said in its statement. “We seek full transparency. We seek justice for Lorenzo.”