Recently obtained video footage casts new light on the 2013 shooting of Keston Charles. The 15-year-old black Brooklyn teen was running away from New York police officers when they opened fire on him in December of that year, hitting him once in the buttocks and twice in the side and chest.
Surveillance footage — obtained exclusively and published Friday by the New York Daily News — shows that Charles had his back turned when the first bullet hit him, and was raising his hands in surrender when the next two hit.
The NYPD officer took 16 shots total. Charles survived after being put in a medically induced coma for three weeks and undergoing surgery. He was holding a BB gun at the time of the foot chase.
Below are screenshots of the incriminating video (watch it in full at the Daily News):
The footage will be a decision-making factor for Manhattan Federal Judge Kevin Castel. He is deciding whether to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Charles' family against the city, or let it go to trial, where a jury will decide if Officer Jonathan Rivera used excessive force when he shot the teen.
Lawyers for the Charles family and the city both believe the video exonerates their side, according to the Daily News. But the footage seems pretty straightforward: Officers Rivera and Kevin Franco were clearly shooting at Charles as he was running away. The teen can be seen limping after being hit once in the buttocks. When Charles reaches the door of his Brownsville Houses apartment building, he raises his hands above his head to surrender. Rivera shoots him two more times anyway. No BB gun is visible in the video when the last two shots hit the teen.
"I was scared for my life. I was trying to get away. I never been shot at before." — Keston Charles, during a deposition
The officers' lawyers insist Charles repeatedly took aim at Rivera and Franco with the BB gun during the chase. If that happened, the footage shows no evidence of it.
The officers gave chase in the first place because they allegedly saw Charles grab the BB gun from a friend during a fight with "neighborhood rivals" and point it at another boy, according to the Daily News. After his coma and surgery, the teen pleaded guilty in family court to possessing a fake pistol.
When asked in a deposition why he didn't drop the BB gun during the chase, Charles reportedly said, "Because I was scared for my life. I was trying to get away. I never been shot at before."
An NYPD review board ruled the shooting was justified and fell within department guidelines for discharging firearms. Neither of the officers involved faced any disciplinary action for shooting the teen.