Tampa Police say killing of teenager Javon Neal was justified, family calls it a cover-up

5:03 PM, Jul 23, 2012   |    comments
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Officers say they found a shotgun with Javon Neal after the shooting, but several witnesses tell 10 News he never reached for a gun and put his hands up when asked by police.

TAMPA, Florida -- Tampa police released new information Monday in death of a 16-year-old shot and killed by two police officers Sunday night.

Officers say the shooting was in self-defense, while some witnesses and community members are outraged by it.

When police arrived at the Central Court apartments Sunday, they say they had to chase 16-year-old Javon Neal up a staircase.

"The suspect never put his hands in the air.  He pointed the gun at the officers," said TPD spokesperson Laura McElroy.

Several witnesses told 10 News on the scene and again Monday that Neal "threw his hands up," but officers shot him anyway.

Police claim those witnesses saw a different person on the staircase who put his hands up, not Neal.

"We believe that is what's causing the misinformation in the community," McElroy said.

The teen's family, though, doesn't buy that story.

"They're trying to cover it up.  They're covering it up.  Simple as that," said Neal's mother, Stacey Fordomss.

Even though a number of witnesses claim they saw Neal put his hands in the air, police say none are willing to give a sworn statement.

On Monday, police said they were called the apartments four times Sunday for separate incidents.

They also told 10 News Neal has had at least seven previous run-ins with police, some of those where he was reportedly armed.

"He's never been arrested, but he's certainly not a stranger to law enforcement," McElroy said.

Officers say the teen was carrying a dangerous, assault-style shotgun at the time of the shooting.

"It's not a toy.  It doesn't belong in the hands of a teenager and that's part of the tragedy here," McElroy explained.

Despite that, Neal's family says he didn't deserve to die.

"I feel like they should have tazed him," said his uncle, Darryl Preston.

Police say they are still investigating how Neal acquired the gun.

Though family members say he was shot 14 times, police are waiting for the autopsy before releasing that information.

Neal used to attend Stuart Middle School, but had most recently been attending an alternative school.

His family says his girlfriend is six months pregnant.

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