District attorney, teen speaking out after officer-involved shooting

OKLAHOMA CITY-  A teenager and his mother are speaking out, saying that an Oklahoma City police officer should not have been cleared of wrongdoing in an officer-involved shooting.

Just after 6 p.m. on March 10, Oklahoma City police were called to a report of a group of people breaking into an abandoned home near S.E. 59th and Bryant. The caller told 911 dispatchers that two of the alleged suspects were armed with guns.

When officers arrived in the area, they say they heard what sounded like gunshots and quickly surrounded the home.

As seen on police bodycam video, Sgt Kyle Holcomb approached a hole in the fence and saw an individual climb out of a window holding something dark in his right hand.

"Show me your hands! Drop it!" Holcomb is heard saying just moments before he opened fire.

Lorenzo Clerkley, 14, was hit once in the hip and once in the thigh, but he survived his wounds.

The officer was placed on administrative leave while authorities investigated the shooting.

Following the investigation, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater cleared Holcomb of any wrongdoing in the shooting.

In a memo to Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty, Prater said, "Holcomb had a reasonable belief that he was about to be shot by Clerkley. I consider Sgt. Holcomb to be cleared for duty as you see fit."

That decision is now making national headlines after Clerkley and his mother spoke to national media organizations.

"We went inside the house. We had the BB guns, the air soft guns, on us at the time," Clerkley told CNN.

Clerkley says he and his friends were firing the guns inside the house. They tried to leave through a back door, but it was locked so they went out the window.

"By the time I went out the window, I heard a voice say, 'freeze', and I jumped and looked to the right of me. He didn't give me time to do anything, put my hands in the air or anything, he just like fired," said Clerkley.

Clerkley claims he was not armed at the time.

However, police officials say they found an air soft gun on the ground next to where Clerkley was shot.

Toy weapons are required to have a bright orange tip, but air soft guns are not. District Attorney Prater says that piece of evidence was critical in the decision to clear Sgt. Holcomb.

"A person in the shoes of Sgt. Holcomb would have had a reasonable belief that they were in imminent threat of being shot. Sgt. Holcomb`s use of deadly force to defend himself was justified and lawful," Prater said.

Clerkley's mother says that explanation is not good enough.

"If my child had a gun, he was in the wrong but at the same time, I want to know why was he shot," Cherelle Lee told CNN. "Even if he had a BB gun, you still have a protocol to sit there and ask him and command him to do what you need him to do."

However, Prater says that is not the way Oklahoma law is written.

"Police officers are not required to be shot before they can exercise deadly force to defend themselves," he said.

Attorneys for Clerkley's family are working on filing a lawsuit against the Oklahoma City Police Department.

District Attorney David Prater's full statement is below:

“Police Officers are not required to be shot before they can exercise deadly force to defend themselves.  Sgt. Holcomb observed what he believed to be a burglary suspect exit from a rear window of the residence.  The suspect who exited the window had an object in his hand that appeared to be a firearm.  The suspect turned toward Sgt. Holcomb with the weapon in his hand and Holcomb shot the suspect in self-defense.  A person in the shoes of Sgt. Holcomb would have had a reasonable belief that they were in imminent threat of being shot.  Sgt. Holcomb’s use of deadly force to defend himself was justified and lawful.”

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.