A teenager from Gainesville, Florida was fatally shot by police who believed the fake gun he carried was real. Robert Dentmond, 16, died Sunday night when he was sprayed with bullets from over five police officers. The high school sophomore was suffering from depression and called 911 to say he was going to take his own life, The Gainesville Sun reports.
Police arrived at the Majestic Oaks apartment complex in Gainesville near 10 p.m., where Dentmond could be seen holding a replica of an AR-15 assault rifle. However, the telling orange tip at the end of the fake gun was covered. During the stand-off, the teen placed the toy gun on the floor, but picked it back up against police orders.
Uncovered cell phone footage allegedly showed Dentmond walking towards his sister, which is when police opened fire. At least 18 shots can be heard in the footage, with nine striking the teen. Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Brandon Kutner justified the actions of the Gainesville Police Department, calling the incident a “lethal force situation.”
Kutner stated that despite a K9 officer at the scene, they had no choice but to use their weapons.
Via The Gainsville Sun:
“This was obviously a lethal force situation. We were able to convince him to drop his weapon,” Kutner said. “At that point there were several officers that tried to de-escalate the situation. We react and utilize force on an individual based on their actions.
“Had he left the weapon on the ground, this would have turned out differently,” he said. “Instead he rearmed himself and walked to an occupied dwelling. We cannot allow an individual who has shown us signs of willingness to harm himself or others to walk into an apartment armed with an assault rifle.”
However, neighbors believe the officers’ decision could have resulted in another fatality. One resident showed reporters the bullet holes that hit just above her bed, according to the report:
Multiple bullets went into the apartment of Shirley Johnson and her daughter, Trenesha McQueen.
“They shot my house up,” Johnson said. “They put me and my daughter’s life in jeopardy in our own home.
There is no way it took that many bullets to hit that boy when they had a clear shot. If I would have been up I would have been shot in the back of the head,” McQueen said.
As the Florida Department of Law investigates the shooting, five deputies who fired shots have been placed on paid administrative leave. Four of the officers are also on temporary leave. WCJB reports the officers were identified Tuesday as ACSO Deputies Sergeant Christopher Sims, Robert Campbell, Kyle Reedy, and Christopher Dasher. The four GPD officers were also identified as Corporal Robert Kennedy, Officers Brendon McCarthy, Mathew Quinn, and Casey Kumar.
Three of the Sheriff’s Deputies on the scene were Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) certified. A GPD officer was also CIT certified, meaning they were aware of how to treat people who suffer from mental illness in hostile situations.
A GoFundMe has been created to help pay for Dentmond’s funeral expenses.