The department claims that the officers chased the teens into an alley and were attempting to place them under arrest when King pulled the BB gun from his waistband. Officer Brian Mason, a white nine-year veteran of the force then shot King “multiple times.”
"Officers followed the males to the alley… and attempted to take them into custody when one suspect pulled a gun from his waistband. One officer shot and struck the suspect multiple times," a statement from the police department reads.
King was taken to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in critical condition, and died shortly after.
Police Chief Kim Jacobs explained that the BB gun had a laser sight attached and that “our officers carry a gun that looks practically identical to this weapon."
"It turns out to not be a firearm in the sense that it fires real bullet, but as you can see it looks like a firearm that could kill you," Jacobs continued.
None of the officers at the scene were wearing body cameras at the time of the shooting.
The other suspect who fled from the officers,19-year-old Demetrius Braxton, admitted that they had in fact robbed someone prior to the incident.
“I was in the situation,” Braxton told The Columbus Dispatch. “We robbed somebody, the people I was with."
"When he ran, the cops shot him," he told the newspaper, asserting that King was shot four or five times. “I didn’t think a cop would shoot. Why didn’t they Tase him?" Braxton said.
“Officers do not have the luxury of knowing if it’s a real gun or not,” union president Jason Pappas said. “So two young men who were suspects in this armed robbery separated and ran. One of them was ordered to show his hands and go to the ground, and he complied.”
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther became emotional over the incident, and has promised that the investigation will be open and transparent. He also stated that everyone should be “shocked and angry” about the shooting.
“There is something wrong in this country, and it is bringing its epidemic to our city streets,” Ginther said. “And a 13-year-old is dead in the city of Columbus because of our obsession with guns and violence.”
In 2014 in nearby Cleveland, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot to death while playing with a pellet gun at a local park. He had not committed any crimes prior to the incident.
Chief Jacobs has said it is too soon in the investigation to compare the two cases.
Jacobs has promised a full investigation and will be sending the results to a grand jury, stating, "we want all the right answers, not quick answers."
She also vowed that she will "not let an officer out on the street to perform their job if I don't trust them to be capable of doing it."