Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Teen Shot by St. Louis Police Paralyzed; Mom Laments Gun Violence

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Teen Shot by St. Louis Police Paralyzed; Mom Laments Gun Violence

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * A teenager shot by city police is paralyzed below the waist, his mother said Sunday as her family copes with another episode of gun violence. Not seven years ago, her teenage daughter was accidentally shot to death.

This time, a firearm in the hand of her son, Brandon Claxton, 16, prompted an officer to shoot him three times about 7:15 p.m. Saturday in a housing complex in the 2500 block of Hodiamont Avenue, officials said. Police encountered him while responding to a call about someone with a stolen pistol.

Antoinette Liggins, 42, told the Post-Dispatch that she was still sorting through her feelings with her daughter gone, one son in critical condition and another, who had been with him, held on a probation violation.

"I had to ask God to give me an understanding for my daughter first and I had to forgive," Liggins said. "She helped a few people with me donating her organs." She added, "With the boys, I really don't know what to do."

She said that she respected the police and that her son "shouldn't have had the gun." But from what witnesses have told her, she said, "They didn't have to shoot him down like that."

Liggins is skeptical that Police Chief Sam Dotson said a surveillance camera did not provide a clear view. "I believe they are trying to cover up," she said. "There is more than one camera back there."

And she complained that police would not let her see her son in a hospital because he was in custody.

Liggins said a protest was planned sometime Monday at Police Headquarters.

One of three witnesses interviewed Sunday told a reporter that Brandon did have a gun in his hand. But all three said that he did not point a weapon at anyone as he tried to run from officers.

The witnesses also said they were concerned about the proximity of children on a playground nearby when the officer opened fire. One said a girl, about 6, even ran out of her shoes while trying to get out of the way. Nobody else was hurt.

Dotson said a woman had called after seeing someone she believed recently stole her pistol. Dotson said that five officers had arrived and that two young black men had fled, running one way and then the other, with police on both sides. He said one teen, carrying a gun, had run toward an officer.

That officer, a white man, 29, with seven years on the force, fired three times. "He saw a gun in the suspect's hands," Dotson said."He believed the gun was pointed at him. He feared for his safety."

Dotson said the circumstances would be reviewed by the department's new Force Investigation Unit and then separately by the circuit attorney's office.

He said a loaded .40-caliber pistol was recovered at the scene.

Liggins said police took in another son, Anthony Claxton, 15, who was with Brandon when he was shot. She said they told her he had violated his parole by missing curfew, and would be held. …

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