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Police, witnesses tell different stories in teen shooting

1:32 PM, Jul 23, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Police, witnesses tell different stories in teen shooting

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 -- Police say a second person near the scene where Tampa Police officers shot Javon Neal may be leading witnesses to believe Neal was unarmed.

Protesters rallied outside a Tampa Police Department substation in East Tampa on Monday morning. The half-dozen people, organized by the New Black Panther Party, said police had murdered 16-year old Neal.

Their main argument centered on witnesses from the Central Court Apartments, who said they had looked up at the third-floor stairwell where police confronted Neal after a foot chase.

The neighbors said the man at the top of the stairs held his hands outward, over his head and clearly was not holding a gun.

But police say on the third floor, Neal spun around and pointed an assault-style shotgun at two officers, prompting at least one of them to shoot Neal in self defense.

A police spokeswoman said Monday that a second person had been in the stairwell. As the chase went up the stairs, that man put his hands up and stepped away, indicating that he wasn't going to get involved in the pursuit.

A 16-year-old was shot and killed by Tampa Police Sunday night, but the circumstances that led to his death are different depending on who you talk to.

Officers say they were called out to the Central Court Apartments around 7 p.m. after a report of a person shooting a gun in the street. Police say they immediately spotted a person matching the suspect's description and chased him on foot.

Police say that suspect, identified as 16-year-old Javon Neal, ran up a staircase, and despite their orders to put his hands up, he reached for a gun.

That's when they shot him.

"At that point, they were in fear of their lives and fired at least one shot in self-defense," TPD spokesperson Laura McElroy said of the officers.

Neal was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital where he later died.

Officers say they found a shotgun with Neal after the shooting, but several witnesses tell 10 News Neal never reached for a gun and put his hands up when asked by police.

"He took his hands, both of his hands, and they went up in the air," said Valencia Hopps, "and they emptied their guns on him."

Outside the hospital, Neal's mother also questioned the use of force. She told 10 News, "My baby didn't deserve to die."

Police have not released how many times the teen was shot.

The two officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.

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