A Columbus, Ohio, police officer is finding both praise and complaints about his conduct during a run-in with two young black boys who seemed at first to have been armed with a gun.
The whole encounter was recorded by Officer Peter Casuccio’s body camera and shows the officer responding to a call to check out two suspicious black boys. When the officer first came on the scene it appeared as if one of the boys had a gun in his waistband.
Officer Casuccio drew his gun and the kid quickly threw the suspicious weapon to the ground. The officer quickly assess the situation and came to realize the “gun” was a plastic BB gun, not a real pistol.
The officer restrained himself and did not open fire, but he did scold the boys for their actions telling them that they could have gotten themselves shot.
“Do you think I want to shoot an 11-year-old? Do you think I want to shoot a 13-year-old?” Casuccio said to the pair.
“Your life hasn’t even gotten started yet, and it could have ended,” Casuccio added. “Cause I wouldn’t have missed. I want you to think about that tonight when you go to bed. You could be gone.”
The officer said that luckily for them he determined that the gun the boys had was probably a realistic looking toy and not a real firearm.
“In today’s world, listen, that thing looks real, bro,” the officer warned them.
One of the boys’ mother also scolded them saying, “He could have shot you for that. You know that?”
Many have praised the officer for taking time to calmly assess the situation instead of merely opening fire because it appeared that the boys had a gun. The officer’s supporters said that the officer did excellent police work by observing that the gun wasn’t real and then using the incident as a life lesson for the boys.
But others have attacked the officer because he called one of the black children “boy” when he addressed them. Others criticized officer Casuccio for calling himself a “pretty bad hombre.” These detractors said that the encounter and the officer’s rhetoric proved he is “racist.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.