A 16-year-old boy is in critical condition after a Miami-Dade police officer shot him four times in the back early Monday morning.
According to police, Sebastian Gregory of Southwest Miami-Dade reached for a baseball bat in his belt when an officer asked him to “show his hands.”
Gregory is in critical but stable condition at Kendall Regional Medical Center. Three bullets were surgically removed from his middle to lower back, but one remains in his spinal cord, his family said. Several of his organs were affected, including his liver, lungs and colon.
He is set to undergo surgery Wednesday morning, and several more operations are anticipated later in the week.
Police said the shooting happened about 3:30 a.m. on Southwest 72nd Street and 160th Avenue in unincorporated Miami-Dade. Officials would not release the officer’s name but said he has been on the force for three years.
“The officer was on a routine patrol when the he spotted the man walking on the sidewalk with a shiny object in his waistband,” said Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Aida Fina-Milian.
That’s when the officer ordered the teen to show his hands — and the teen reached for his bat, she said.
Gregory was taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center. The officer was not hurt.
Fina-Milian said the officer stopped Gregory because it was “3:30 in the morning; it was a residential area and he had a shiny object.”
However, Gregory’s family said the police’s side of the story is very vague.
“Sebastian was told to get on the ground by the officer,” his mother, Amalia Gregory said. “We don’t know if he twitched or made a gesture, but that’s when the cop shot him four times.”
“My son’s palms are scraped, as if he was hurt by the concrete.”
Police declined to release the incident report.
Gregory’s father, Andres Gregory, was seen standing by his son’s bed caressing his face.
“My No. 1 priority is to have my son get better; that is it,” he told The Miami Herald late Tuesday. “We will deal with the details later.”
The boy’s older brother, Juan Gregory, 19, said he was on his way home that night from a friend’s gathering when he saw all the roads closed.
“I thought it was a car accident. When I got home, I found out it was my brother — he was shot.”
Gregory’s parents said they were asleep when Gregory left the house that night without telling them. They also said it’s normal for him to take nightly strolls and that many of the boy’s friends live in the general area where police stopped him. He was shot about 10 blocks from his house.
“He likes to think a lot,” his brother said. “So he walks. He carries a bat for protection.”
On Tuesday night, doctors told Gregory’s family that his blood supply was reaching a normal level.
However, it is still unknown whether he will be able to use his legs again. Gregory has been able to communicate with his family, but gets tired quickly.
This is Gregory’s first year being homeschooled. His parents declined to say why that decision was made, only saying that it was “the best thing for him.”
“It is very unlikely for my son to threaten an officer,” his mother said.
“But let’s say for some reason the officer felt threatened. Why shoot him four times?”
The number of rounds wasn’t the only detail of the shooting that has kept the Gregory family on edge.
“Officers carry a Taser, mace and a baton,” Juan Gregory said. “Out of all of those, why a gun?” Also, why shoot someone if they are already on the floor?”
According to Gregory’s long-time friend and neighbor Eduardo Cancio, 18, Gregory loves to read, play baseball and go fishing.
“He’s a serious guy and very reserved,” he said. “But with his friends he can’t stop talking.”
The family said they are in the process of getting a lawyer. Amelia Gregory said she will wait for all her “question marks” to be answered.
“He was shot in the back,” she said. “That’s cowardice. A backstab.”