Tampa, Florida - Sunday's fatal shooting of 16-year-old Javon Neal angered the black community, some saying the police had no reason to shoot him. The shooting threatened to reverse the good will Tampa Police have tried to foster, but the cries of foul became too loud for Chief Jane Castor to ignore.
Chief Castor wrote a letter to the Florida Sentinel Bulletin in response to questions surrounding the shooting, which read the following:
"As I stated to Javon's mother the night of the incident, I am sorry for his death. The loss of a young life, and so unnecessarily, is a sad commentary on our whole community. I do not, and will not, apologize for the actions of my officers. In fact I stand firmly in support, knowing that if not for their quick reaction to this dangerous threat, they may not have gone home to their families. I can ask my officers to lay down their lives for the good in our community; I cannot and will not do so for those who are breaking the law."
Rewind to Sunday night when Tampa Police responded to reports of shots fired inside of Central Court Apartments. Tampa Police say they encountered Neal, who fit the suspect's description, and ordered him to freeze but he ran. When they chased him up a flight of stairs, they say he pulled a gun and pointed it at them, so officers had no option but to fire.
But Neal's mother tells a different story.
"When they told him to stop, he put his hands up just like this, but they shot him and they kept on shooting him" said Stacy Fordomss, Neal's mother.
Also in the letter to the Sentinel, Chief Castor provided two pictures taken by housing security cameras. The pictures clearly showing Neal in the staircase with a shotgun protruding from his shorts, and later the gun he dropped after being shot.
"The tragedy of this case, is to have a teenager armed with such a serious and dangerous weapon, an assualt style shotgun .. it's not a toy .. it doesn't belong in the hands of a teenager" said Tampa Police Information Officer Laura McElroy.
Protests are planned to take place on Saturday, July 28th, between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. in front of the District 3 Station in West Tampa.