TAMPA - Ask Javon "JJ" Neal's family about the 16-year-old's death, and they'll say he died in cold blood while playing a simple game of freeze tag.
"He's not a bad kid," cried Neal's mother, Stacey Fordomss. "My son is sweet as gold."
The story changes, however, when it comes from Tampa Police, who claim the teenager wasn't playing games at all.
"This is a very dangerous assault-style weapon," said TPD Spokesperson Laura McElroy. "It has no business being in the hands of a teenager."
TPD responded to three calls about fights and shots fired at the Central Court Apartments in West Tampa on Sunday, the first around 6am.
The fourth and final call came around 7pm. The suspect, according to officers, ran up a staircase and then pointed his gun right at them, so officers fired theirs.
Neal's family claims he was unarmed.
"He put his hands up and they shot him six or seven times," explained Kemon Ford. "Just died in front of my eyes. They weren't doing anything to try to help him. They just shot him and let him lie there and die."
Ford, 12, watched his older brother die.
"I said, 'Mom! Mom! Mom! They shot JJ! They shot JJ!" he remembered.
Protestors lined the streets near the crime scene Monday, shouting for justice, referencing the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
"My son's never been in handcuffs. He's never even sat in the back of a police car," Fordomss said.
Police admit Neal has never been arrested, but they call him no stranger to law enforcement. According to McElroy, officers have had at least seven run-ins with the teen, once during a middle school fight, and twice they believe he was armed.
"We have an account from a witness who says there's no doubt in his mind that if the officers didn't fire, they may not be alive today," McElroy said.
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