The person shot by a DeKalb County police officer Tuesday morning was a 16-year-old Southwest DeKalb High School student skipping school, not a would-be burglar as initially believed, police said.
DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander said Wednesday the shooting was an “unintentional misfire.”
“It has been revealed to us that the subject shot by one our DeKalb police officers was not associated with the burglary on Streamside Court,” Alexander said. “He was truant from school and began running when he saw police officers in the area.”
The teen was shot in the right arm and was in stable condition at a local hospital, police said.
Police were called to a home in the 2600 block of Streamside Court. A woman who had barricaded herself inside said invaders had broken into her home.
Two alleged burglars were found in the attic, police said. The officers believed as many as two more possible suspects got away, police said.
Alexander said officers saw one of those suspects running from the Streamside Court home. At the same time, the chief said, the teen saw police canvassing the area and fled, fearing he was in trouble.
The officers assumed the teen “was part of those (suspects) that were running away from the crime scene,” the chief said. “But actually, he’s running because he’s truant.”
Alexander said one of the K-9 officers who saw the teen gave chase. When the officer’s dog tracked the teen to a shed the teen startled the officer and the dog, Alexander said.
“That’s when we had an unintentional misfire,” Alexander said.
Police did not make clear whether the officer’s weapon malfunctioned or whether the officer inadvertently pulled the trigger.
The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
Alexander said that, had the youth stopped running, the incident probably wouldn’t have happened.
“Absolutely it would’ve been different,” he said. “Had he stopped right there … That would have been it.”
The chief acknowledged that the teen could have been killed.
“He was lucky,” Alexander said.
The teen’s aunt and legal guardian, Geraldine Lloyd, told Channel 2 Action News that it was a close call, but she’s relieved the teen will survive the shooting.
She said she’s not angry with the police.
“I’m not going to allow myself to get upset,” she said. “I told him he knew better, he should have been on the school bus. If he’d been at school this would have never occurred.”