Ohio police kill unarmed black man carrying pellet gun
Three policemen in the US state of Ohio have shot dead a black man for holding a “very realistic-looking” airsoft pistol.
Paul Gaston, 37, was shot nine times Wednesday afternoon in the city of Cheviot after reaching toward his waistband for a pellet gun which the officers believed was real, Cincinnati police Chief Eliot Isaac said Thursday.
According to Isaac, officers opened fire on Gaston after he refused to lie down on the ground and rose instead. Police have released two videos of the shooting taken by eyewitnesses.
Isaac described the pistol as “a very realistic-looking firearm,” completely ignoring the fact that even if the gun was real, Gaston was allowed by state rules to openly carry weapons.
Local sources have confirmed that the BB-gun was not in Gaston’s hand when he was shot. Police however claim that the officers “feared for their lives.”
The incident is currently under investigation, but the police are siding with the officers who killed Gaston.
“It only takes one bullet to put somebody down. It doesn’t take nine shots,” said Karen Williams, Paul Gaston’s aunt.
Officers Zachary Sterbling, Eric Kohler and Scott McManis each are on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley also reacted to the shooting, saying “we always regret the loss of life, no matter what the circumstances. So we want to extend our prayers to the family of the suspect. It’s always sad to see a life lost.”
Police’s justification for the fatal shooting was similar to the one that Beavercreek, Ohio police gave for shooting John Crawford in a Walmart pet food aisle in August 2014 as well as the justification the Cleveland police gave for shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice in November 2014.
Officer Timothy Loehmann shot Rice just two seconds after arriving at the scene, never giving the teenage boy the chance to explain that the gun in his hand was fake.
Police in the United States fatally shot nearly 1,000 people in 2015, of which 90 were unarmed and did not possess weapons of any kind during a confrontation, according to a year-long study by the Washington Post.