Back in March, Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Kyle Holcomb fired four shots at 14-year-old Lorenzo Clerkley, with two of them striking the teen.
Lorenzo thankfully survived the shooting. Holcomb was put on administrative leave following the shooting, according to CNN, but has since been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing and has returned to full active duty.
However, Lorenzo’s mother—who is not at all satisfied with how quickly Holcomb was cleared—still has questions that she needs answered.
“Everything happened so quick,” Cherelle Lee told CNN. “There was no reason he should’ve fired off anyway just because he could’ve ended up taking his life.”
Lorenzo and five of his friends decided to go shoot BB guns on March 10 when rain changed their original plans to play basketball. The teens, who had five BB guns among them, decided to go to a long-abandoned home in the area, where they started shooting mirrors and other objects inside the building.
Lorenzo was playing with a gun that did not have anything in it, just shooting air. He said he eventually put down the toy to explore the backyard.
Around the same time, police, including Holcomb, were responding to a 911 call about several people, two of them armed, breaking into a home.
When Holcomb shot Lorenzo, police claimed that he had a toy gun on him and did not drop it when ordered. Body camera footage doesn’t help in this incident, as it is not clear if he was holding the BB gun. However, though the teen acknowledges that he and his friends were playing with the BB guns, he insists he did not have one in his hand when he was shot.
More importantly, according to Lorenzo, he wasn’t given time to respond to any orders that were issued to him.
Body camera footage shows Holcomb screaming, “Show me your hands! Drop it!” at Lorenzo before quickly firing off four shots within seconds of those words exiting his mouth.
“By the time, I went out the window, I heard a voice say, ‘Freeze!’ and I jumped and looked to the right of me, and then he didn’t even give me no time to do anything — put my hands in the air, anything — and he just fired,” Lorenzo told CNN.
“I just feel like officers, when it comes to Black kids, they treat them different than white kids, and it’s hard,” he added. “I feel like I’m not even protected by the cops no more. I feel like they’re against me now.”
Lee said that even if her son did have a BB gun in his hand, officers should have given him a chance to comply.
“You still have a protocol to sit there and ask him and command him to do what you need him to do, and once he’s not following that first command, then you take action on what you need to do from there,” the mother said. “It traumatizes me, myself, to understand that: Hey, you were this close from taking my baby’s life — for nothing.”
The family’s attorney points out that Holcomb is heard on camera acknowledging that he thinks the weapon he heard being fired could be a “cap gun,” but still decided to shoot at the teen anyway.
“That officer heard what was being fired, acknowledged that it was a toy gun and still fired shots anyway,” Dan Smolen, who is representing Lee and Lorenzo told CNN. “We know what his thoughts were just seconds before the shooting took place.”
Meanwhile, Holcomb’s attorney Curt Dewberry, as well as the president of the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police, have called the shooting justified.
“I have not seen any information that shows anything other than the fact that the suspect was armed at the time he was fleeing the house after the police announced their presence,” Dewberry said.
“In this case, this was a replica-type handgun that looks identical to a duty weapon,” John George, the president of the police union added. “It’s incredibly accurate, so our officer couldn’t tell the difference.”
“If somebody’s pointing a gun at you, you don’t even have to give the command. Your life’s in danger at that point. … At that moment in time, it’s justifiable,” George said.
Nonetheless, Lorenzo says that had he been given a chance, he would have listened to orders.
He told CNN that if he could talk to Holcomb he would want to let him know “that I’m actually a good kid, that I follow directions and stuff like that. He just didn’t give me time to follow his directions.”