Four teenagers who were with a black boy before he was fatally shot by a white Columbus police officer are now third-party defendants in a lawsuit over his death, even though his family doesn't believe the teens should be held financially responsible.
The City of Columbus wanted the teens added to the case over the September 2016 death of 13-year-old Tyre King. That means they could be on the hook if Columbus or the officer is found liable for damages. The city contends King's death was a consequence of the teens' misbehavior. Police say King was with another teen who robbed someone, and was shot by officer Bryan Mason, who thought he had a firearm. It turned out to be an inoperable BB gun. A grand jury declined to indict Mason. The now 18-year-old who was convicted in the robbery, Demetrius Braxton, is serving a three-year prison sentence. The other teens - Jaronn Collins, Preona Russell and Akilah Bulger - weren't charged in that case. The lawsuit brought by King's grandmother against Mason and the city characterized his death as the result of excessive force, racial discrimination and a failure by police department properly investigate and discipline officers for racially motivated behavior. The family's attorney says his clients do not believe the teens should be held financially responsible for what happened.