Tragic Encounter: Unpacking the April 1 Akron Police Shooting of Teen with Toy Gun

Body camera footage released by the City of Akron on Monday shows the April 1 shooting of teenager Tavion Koonce-Williams, who was shot in the hand after a 911 caller reported him to police for holding what was later determined to be a toy gun. Video shows that the teen, who was not named by


In a revealing moment captured through the lens of body camera footage, the City of Akron unveils the harrowing incident from April 1, where Tavion Koonce-Williams, a mere teenager, found himself in the throes of a critical confrontation. The police, responding to a 911 call about a suspicious individual wielding what appeared to be a firearm, discovered the stark reality: the weapon in question was, in fact, a toy. The footage vividly captures the sequence of events, highlighting the officer’s rapid decision-making process in a situation charged with intensity.

PHOTO: Body camera footage released by the city of Akron shows the April 1, 2024 shooting of a teen determined to be holding a fake gun by an Akron police officer. (Akron Police Department/City of Akron)

The incident began with a concerned citizen, engaged in an everyday activity of walking her dog, who reported seeing Koonce-Williams brandishing what seemed to be a gun at residences. This call set into motion the events that led to the teen, identified later by family legal representation as 15-year-old Koonce-Williams, sustaining a gunshot wound to the hand.

In the heart of the footage, the officer, upon arrival, confronts the teen with a directive to place his hands behind his back. What unfolds is a swift escalation, culminating in a single gunshot that pierces the quiet, injuring Koonce-Williams. Throughout, his cries, ”it’s fake, it’s fake,” echo, a poignant testament to the tragic misunderstanding at play.

PHOTO: This image shared by the city of Akron shows a fake gun that was held by a teen who was shot by an Akron police officer on April 1, 2024. (Akron Police Department/City of Akron)

In the aftermath, attorney Imokhai Okolo voices the deep-seated anguish of a family grappling with the stark reality of their loved one’s ordeal, highlighting the broader implications of such encounters. The narrative further unfolds with details of Officer Ryan Westlake’s background, weaving a complex tapestry of past disciplinary actions and the ongoing quest for accountability and justice.

PHOTO: Body camera footage released by the city of Akron shows the April 1, 2024 shooting of a teen determined to be holding a fake gun by an Akron police officer. (Akron Police Department/City of Akron)

As the city pledges transparency in the unfolding investigation, a broader dialogue emerges, centered on the mechanisms of policing, the imperative of quick judgement, and the indelible mark left on those at the heart of such incidents. This event not only underscores the complexities inherent in law enforcement’s response to perceived threats but also casts a spotlight on the critical need for dialogue, reform, and understanding in the pursuit of safety and justice.