TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Detectives with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office are still working to determine how a deputy-involved shooting of an unarmed teen unfolded earlier this week.
The situation began as a domestic dispute at the Jasmine Terrace Apartments on Skipper Road Tuesday. A deputy spotted the 17-year-old, who was suspected of hitting his sister and throwing his mother to the ground.
What happened next differs, depending on who you ask.
According to a sheriff's office spokesperson, the deputy told his supervisor he believed the teenager was holding a weapon and ordered him to "drop the gun." The deputy said he opened fire when the teen did not comply.
An eyewitness, however, told detectives and FOX 13, "He was full-fledged ready to run away, not reaching for anything."
"I saw his hands clear as day," said Jose Aviles. "He didn't say, 'Put the gun down, put the gun down!' He said, 'Stop, show me your hands!' and proceeded to fire directly after that."
Jim Diamond, a retired Tampa police officer who has five decades of experience in law enforcement, explained why use-of-force investigations are complicated.
He said investigators first try to determine how reliable the witnesses and deputy are. They will then have to consider that witnesses, the deputy, and the teen each viewed the incident from different angles and points of view.
"We've found, in many cases not unlike this, that the eyewitness' perception of what happened is 180 degrees out of what actually happened," Diamond said, adding these types of cases, "Very complex and probably the most difficult thing for [police] to investigate beacsue...the burden is on [police] to get it right and to justify the use of lethal force against the civilian community that we're sworn to protect."
The teenager survived and, at last check, was stable but in critical condition.
A sheriff's office spokesperson said the deputy's cruiser is not equipped with a dashboard camera and the department doesn't use body cameras, so there is no video of the incident.
Investigators revealed the teenager has a criminal record, but aren't releasing what is in his past, citing public records laws regarding minors. It's unclear if the deputy knew about the teen's criminal history before the encounter.