Teen Shoots Self in Foot

May 25, 2006

Los Angeles: A 17-year-old boy, who was riding a beach cruiser on Broadway, shot himself in the foot after two Los Angeles police officers detained him for a traffic violation.

The two officers assigned to Metropolitan Division saw the youth riding the bicycle against traffic, then onto the sidewalk near 61st Street where pedestrians had to move out of his way. When the officers tried to detain him, the teen nervously grabbed for his waistband and ducked behind a van parked at the curb.

"When officers see that kind of behavior, warning lights automatically go off," said LAPD spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vernon. "The first thoughts are gun or drugs."

The officers heard a gunshot then saw a silver object slide under the van.

"Even in the face of the gunshot, these two veteran officers kept their cool and arrested the teen without firing a shot or using any force," Vernon said. "It’s a testament to their training, professionalism and character. The public tends to hear about the few dozen situations each year where officers have to fire their guns. What they never realize is there are far more situations where officers arrest the gunman without firing a shot."

The object, which slid under the van, was indeed a two-shot .38 caliber derringer, which the teen had in his pants. Absent a trigger guard, the gun was more apt to go off, which it did, into the subject’s foot. The teen was treated for the gunshot wound at Martin Luther King Hospital.

The derringer turned out to be stolen, so the teen was booked for possession of a stolen gun, which is a felony. He was already facing a charge of possessing burglary tools from an arrest earlier in this year.

This arrest was the fifth incident in South Los Angeles since Sunday in which suspects between 16 and 22 years old confronted police officers with guns.