“The deputy’s mindset was that he was fearful that he was going to be shot,” Henry said at a Wednesday news conference.
Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina, said officers are typically justified in the use of deadly force when they sincerely believe lives are at stake.
If the teen was raising the barrel of the gun toward officers, they had little choice about firing, Alpert said.
“If it’s a pink bubble gum gun and an obvious fake to most, then there is no reason to shoot,” he said. “But if the gun looks real the barrel is being pointed at you … it’s unfortunate, but a perceived threat trumps age and the officers have to protect themselves.”
Hundreds of community members marched Wednesday night to remember the teen and protest the shooting.
They covered more than three miles from Santa Rosa City Hall to the field where Andy Lopez was killed. Some lit candles and placed flowers at a makeshift memorial with printed pictures of the victim, stuffed animals and a balloon that read “RIP Andy L.”