St. Petersburg, Florida - Deneen Sweat knows how hard it is to raise a teenager. The out-of-work nurse is a single mother and says she has tried her best with her 16-year-old son Nicholas Lindsey.
Her son is severely asthmatic and is hard of hearing. He wears hearing aids. She says he's quiet and loving. After all, he's her middle child, her baby. He just turned 16 on February 13th.
Things are different now. The young man is now charged with first degree murder for allegedly shooting a St. Petersburg police officer.
Deneen says, "I would have known he did this, I would have turned him in. My children call me the police, I will turn them in myself."
She says the night of the shooting, she put her son to bed before 10:00.
Her sister had a scheduled C-section at the hospital that night, and she went to see her. When she came home, "little Nick" was gone.
He came home an hour later, she says. She knew something was wrong.
She told us, "We all slept in the house the next day. We watched the news together ... I asked him several times. I knew something was wrong."
Police say that Nick killed Officer David Crawford that night. She says her son is not a bad person, but that he made a bad decision.
Her son told her what happened during the shooting.
"[The officer] said, 'Take your hands out of your pockets,' and he said he knew he had gun on them. [Nicholas said,] 'I just tried to break into this car. I took my hands out of my pockets and the gun came out with it.' He thought the safety was on. It fired and it kept firing and it was jerking. He did not mean to shoot the officer," she explained.
She explained how her son told that he bought a gun off the street for $140 last week because "someone shot at him."
"I do believe someone else was with my son. All they saw on camera was my son," she told us.
Her son missed countless days of school, and she says she asked for help over and over again.
"It was horrible. I didn't do anything wrong. He got caught up in the system. It's a game. He's a baby, he is a baby, even though he's 16, he's a baby. He's so naive, and soft spoken," she admitted.
She went on to say, "I can't bring the officer back, and I don't know what's going to happen to my son, but I'm going to be there every step of the way,"
She offered this apology to the public and the family of Officer Crawford.
"I am so sorry, my son made a mistake. He made poor judgment, when the officer asked him to stop, he did that. When the officer asked him to stop, the gun came out with his hands," she says.
She says her son didn't mean to do this, "He thought it was on safety, that's what he said to me. My son wouldn't have shot an officer."
"He panicked, that was not what he meant to do. That's no excuse, but he's remorseful, he cried like a baby. My son is asthmatic, hard of hearing, he should be considered disabled. Thats no excuse," she said.
She added, "I'm very sorry, I can't bring him back. I can't bring my son back, If I could have told him, baby this is what you do, tell him you've got a gun, it's my pocket. He was scared, he didn't know what to do, he was scared. He's a child."
Melanie Michael, 10 News