A Georgia police officer opened fire on a vehicle with two teenagers onboard during an attempted traffic stop. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, five children ages 16, 15, 14, 12 and 9 were in the vehicle when a Waycross officer witnessed a moving violation by the driver.
When the vehicle stopped, three younger children got out and ran and the officer began to follow them. Another officer approached the vehicle from the front when it began driving toward him, the GBI said.
The officer then fired multiple shots at the vehicle, with the 16- and 15-year-old boys still inside. The 9-year-old told News4Jax at least seven shots were fired and one bullet whizzed by his head. “It went past my face,” the boy said. “I could have gotten shot in my face, but they shot the swing.”
GBI said the older teens in the car jumped out while it was still in drive and it came to a stop further up the road and when the first officer heard the gunfire, he drove back to the traffic stop scene and the children ran home.
“They shot at a car full of unarmed minors. A car full of unarmed children,” Dominique Goodman Sr., who identified himself as the children’s father, told WJXT-TV.
According to their father, the children were coming home from Walmart when an officer began following them in his patrol car. He said the younger children got out and tried to run home to alert him and he stepped outside after hearing them screaming.
“We open the door, we see my 9-year-old, my 12-year-old and a 14-year-old running from the police behind them with gunshots coming behind them,” Goodman said. “We go down the street and we see our 15-year-old and our 16-year-old on the ground.”
News4Jax reported that Goodman showed cellphone video he captured of the teens being taken into custody. “He can be heard pleading with the officers not to shoot the boys. ‘They’re minors, man! Please!’ he says in the video”.
Pictures reportedly taken at the scene show the 15-year-old with blood dripping down his face as he stands handcuffed by a squad car. No officers were injured during the incident, GBI said.
The teens were both taken from the scene in handcuffs and were held at the police station for hours, the family said. Waycross police later said the teens were facing weapons and other charges.
The 16-year-old has been charged with possession of a handgun by a minor, reckless driving, aggravated assault on a police officer, driving without a license and a stop sign violation, police said. The 15-year-old is charged with possession of a handgun by a minor, felony obstruction of an officer and removal or attempt to remove a firearm from an officer.
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, nobody was injured by the gunshots in Waycross near the Georgia-Florida state line but in a news release, the agency said that a 15-year-old boy was treated for minor injuries after an altercation with an officer.
“The officer was behind the car and firing from behind. The car was not driving towards the officer. They tried to say that i tries to take his gun off his waist but his gun was in his hands the whole time pointed at me and my mum,” the 15-year-old told News4jax.
The community said that the use of force on the children is unnecessary and that the matter should be investigated. State authorities said they’re investigating both officers involved and have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
DEVELOPING. We are receiving reports of a police involved incident in Waycross, Ware County Georgia. Initial Reports allege a 9 and 12 year old were present during the shooting by Law Enforcement. The @Georgia_NAACP has been alerted. #BlackLivesMatter #WeAreDoneDying pic.twitter.com/InKtYwXk4s— Gerald A. Griggs (@AttorneyGriggs) August 8, 2020
Meanwhile, Atlanta attorney Gerald Griggs who is the vice president of the city’s NAACP chapter, said the organization is calling for police to immediately release body camera and dash-camera footage of the attempted traffic stop.
“I’m very concerned that shots were fired while children were involved,” Griggs told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re concerned that level of force was used.”