Home Crime Tavion Koonce-Williams, 15, Shot By Akron Police Over Fake Gun: What We Know

Tavion Koonce-Williams, 15, Shot By Akron Police Over Fake Gun: What We Know

by cashonbank.com
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Evidently, police brutality and racial profiling is still very much alive. Tavion Koonce-Williams, a 15-year-old teen, was shot by an Akron, Ohio police officer on April 1st, 2024. This is yet another terrible case of the police looking for an excuse to shoot a Black boy. Why? Because Akron PD claims the boy was shot for wielding a “Facsimile Firearm.” However, the innocent boy was simply holding a toy gun. 

This story, like many others across the United States, reminds the world at large of the consistent profiling of Black youth. Notably, Ohio has an existing history with trigger-happy cops. Take the case of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was killed in 2014 for possessing a pellet gun. Although Tavion Koonce-Williams is still alive, things could have taken a more serious turn.   

What Happened With Tavion Koonce-Williams?

A female 911 caller claimed she saw a Black male pointing a gun at houses on Tonawanda Avenue and Newton Street. Officer Westlake, the responding police officer in the area, went to check it out. There, he found Tavion at an intersection on Brittain Road and Ottawa Avenue. The events of what happened from the released body camera video by Akron’s Mayor Malik show Officer Westlake pulling up next to Tavion and asking, “Where you coming from? Can I see your hands?” 

Westlake then gets out of his police car, pointing his gun at Tavion. Only three and a half seconds later, he fires one shot, hitting Tavion in the wrist. Tavion drops to the ground screaming, “It’s fake, it’s fake!” while holding his hands up. The policeman subsequently handcuffs him. Upon inspecting the gun and realizing it was a fake, the officer put a tourniquet on Tavion’s bleeding wrist.

Tavion’s Family Speaks Out

Tavion’s mom, Angel Williams, while speaking at a press conference, said this was “very, very traumatizing” for their whole family. His dad, James Koonce, said he’s “deeply hurt by the trauma” this has caused and that it will “affect his life forever.” Furthermore, their representing lawyer, Imokhai Okolo, has made it clear that the family wishes for Westlake to be immediately removed from the force. Moreover, they believe he also should be charged in court. He also brought up the decade-old police killing of Tamir Rice, who, similarly, had a toy gun. Okolo then asked how a child could get “gunned down” when following the officer’s orders with his hands up.

Community leaders in Akron are also in unison with their demands that the officer be let go from the force. The Akron NAACP president said that, while Tavion shouldn’t have had a toy gun, the “trained” officer should not have shot a 15-year-old kid. Ray Greene Jr., from the group Freedom BLOC, also said that the police “de-escalate and don’t kill white children every day,” but the case was different for Black kids. Unsurprisingly, he also wants Westlake terminated for the shooting of Tavion Koonce-Williams.

The Officer’s Disciplinary Past

Records show that in 2021, Westlake was fired for pulling his gun on his girlfriend while drunk and using slurs. However, he was rehired the next day after the police union got involved. The union defended Westlake, saying he subsequently followed his training when making that “split-second deadly force decision.” This has now raised questions about the union’s role in defending police officers who stray. It also strengthens the case that Westlake could have ended up killing Tavion Koonce-Williams.

What’s Next?

An independent state investigation by BCI is ongoing and will head over to the Ohio Attorney General’s office, as well as the grand jury. The Akron police internal affairs will also investigate the case to decide if any policies were broken. This shooting of a Black teenager over a fake gun has people outraged about the heightened racism in the police force. The people want transparency and accountability from a department with a repetitive history. Tavion Koonce-Williams’ life is forever changed, as the young teenager has become part of a larger statistic of the biases that make children of color feel unsafe.


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