On Tuesday 15-year-old Jamar Nicholson, of Los Angeles, was standing in an alley with a group of friends, one of whom was holding a toy gun. A plainclothes police officer, who believed that the gun was real, opened fire on the young men, hitting Jamar, who was unarmed, in the back.
"What the officer thought was a weapon turned out to be a replica handgun," Sgt. Frank Preciado told the Los Angeles Times Thursday.
According to the Times, Jamar was rushed to the hospital and released the same day. News station KTLA notes that officers initially reported that a gunman had been taken into custody shortly after the shooting, but changed that story a day later.
Preciado claims that the officer saw Jamar's friend holding the "gun" and that it was aimed at a person. Preciado says the young man ignored orders to drop the gun, which is when the officer opened fire. The teen with the replica was uninjured. The bullet, which remains lodged in Jamar's back, barely missed his spine, according to the Times.
The Times notes that a police captain apologized to Jamar's mother but that Jamar told the newspaper that he wants to hear an apology from the officer.
"I don't want to see him again," he told the Los Angeles Times, "but I do want that 'sorry.' "
No arrests were made in the incident, but police took the opportunity to caution the public about the dangers of replica guns and noted that the only difference between the "toy" and an actual gun is the orange tip at the end of the barrel.
"It's certainly an unfortunate situation," Police Cmdr. Andrew Smith told the Times. "But because of people bringing replica weapons out like that, it certainly could have been a terrible tragedy."