Pellet Gun Gets TX Boy, 15, Shot Dead by Cops

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on January 06, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Questions of excessive force are being raised in the police-related death of 15-year-old Jaime Gonzalez, Jr. Police were called to Cummings Middle School in Brownsville, Tex. on Wednesday after the 8th-grader displayed a gun.

Officers found the teen pointing what appeared to be a semiautomatic weapon. When he did not comply with multiple requests to drop the gun, they shot.

It was only later they determined that Gonzalez was armed only with a pellet gun.

Pellet guns use compressed air to fire small metal pellets, according to USA Today. They often closely resemble real guns, which is why the officers believed Gonzalez to be armed. This belief is further backed by police radio communications that describe him as holding a handgun.

Even so, the parents of Jamie Gonzalez believe that police acted out of turn. Three shots were fired and one hit the teen in the back of the head, reports the New York Daily News. They believe the number and placement of the shots amount to excessive force.

Whether the decision to shoot was excessive depends on the surrounding facts. It's ultimately a question of reasonableness -- given the circumstances, were police actions unreasonable?

Here, we have a teenage boy wielding a gun during school hours. It looked like a real gun, so police believed it to be a weapon. Officers repeatedly asked the teen to drop the gun, but he failed to comply.

Under these circumstances, was it unreasonable for police to shoot Jaime Gonzalez? Or were their actions only unreasonable because they later determined that the teen was only carrying a pellet gun?

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