The Ohio State Coalition for Black Liberation held a vigil for Tyre King, a 13-year-old who was shot and killed by a Columbus Division of Police officer Wednesday night.
The vigil took place between 5 and 6 p.m. on the South Oval, where upset students as well Columbus residents voiced their opinions on the shooting. There was also a moment of silence dedicated to King.
“It’s one of the saddest deaths in a long time,” said Maryam Abidi, a fourth-year in strategic communication who attended the vigil. “And the story the police gave is the story the police always give.”
The incident began when Columbus Police were called to investigate an armed robbery in the Olde Towne East neighborhood, and encountered King and two other males.
King was shot after he pulled a BB gun — which officers mistook as a real gun — from his waistband, according to a statement by the police.
Demetrius Braxton, 19, who was with King when the police encountered them, told The Columbus Dispatch the BB gun looked like a real gun.
Despite Braxton’s comments, there was still a sense of distrust among some Columbus residents about the shooting, which has been compared to the shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old in Cleveland who was killed by a police officer while possessing a BB gun in 2014.
“First off, what we know is the boy had a toy gun, if he had a gun at all,” said Anthony Edgecombe, a resident of Columbus.
Like Rice, King was black. The officer in the Rice case was not charged with any wrongdoing, which Cleveland-area congressional Rep. Marcia Fudge called “a miscarriage of justice.”
Some students in attendance expressed dismay at the number of people killed by the Columbus Division of Police this year, although in one instance that figure was wrongly placed at 13. Thirteen people have been shot by police in Columbus; five have died.
Others attending the vigil were upset there was no video evidence of the shooting.
“This time we haven’t found video evidence yet,” Abidi said.
Congressional Rep. Joyce Beatty, who represents much of the campus and off-campus area, as well as the neighborhood where King was killed, issued the following statement Thursday afternoon:
“Tyree King’s death is a tragedy and today we mourn the loss of this 13 year-old child. I join others in urging the community to unite and to respect the privacy of the King family during this difficult time. As this incident is fully investigated, we must stand together—elected officials, parents, activists, police, community and faith leaders, and all of us—to save lives.”
Bryan Mason, a Columbus police officer of nine years, was identified as the officer who shot King by Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs. Mason has been placed on administrative leave while there is an investigation of the incident.
Columbus Division of Police officers began testing body cameras in August during a 10-day trial period, but the program is not yet permanent or department-wide.
University Police Chief Craig Stone said OSU has pilot tested body cameras over the past few years, and has plans to implement them soon.
“By the end of the year, we plan on purchasing body cameras for all of our officers, and they will be wearing them when they are on duty,” Stone told The Lantern in an interview Thursday afternoon about the upcoming Community Police Academy that University Police is hosting.
The vigil ended with the crowd singing “We’re on the Freedom Side.”