Des Moines, IA – An encounter between a Des Moines police officer and a young man armed with a replica handgun nearly turned fatal in September, when the suspect pointed the weapon at the officer (video below).
The incident occurred on Sep. 3, while two unnamed males were walking along Douglas Avenue, WHO reported.
“We had several people give us a call that they saw a young man walking down the street, and he was armed with a hand gun,” Des Moines Police Sergeant Paul Parizek told the news outlet.
The department released dashcam and bodycam footage of Des Moines Police Officer Andrew Weispfenning’s encounter with the males on Thursday, KCRG reported.
“Drop that,” Officer Weispfenning said in the video, as he pulled up near the suspect.
He then parked his patrol car in the middle of his roadway and jumped out, as the subject raised the gun in his direction.
“He draws his weapon and he watches as this kid points that gun directly at him,” Sgt. Paul Parizek recounted to KCCI.
“From our perspective, you can’t tell if that’s a real gun or a fake gun, and that can lead to some very deadly consequences,” the sergeant told WHO. “It was one thing to see the gun in his hand, but it was another thing to see him actually extend that out at the officer.”
Officer Weispfenning again ordered the male to drop the weapon, at which point he complied, the video showed.
“For whatever reason, that officer was comfortable with what was going on in the moment, risked his own life not knowing what was happening and chose not to shoot,” Sgt. Parizek told KCCI.
“If an officer would have fired on that kid, that would have been justified,” the sergeant added.
Officer Weispfenning calmly approached the male with his weapon drawn, and told him to get onto the ground with his hands raised.
The officer then bent down, grabbed the suspect’s gun off of the ground, and realized it was a replica firearm.
“I’m good,” the officer radioed his dispatcher during a status check. “It looks like it’s just a toy.”
He then directed his attention back to the suspect.
“That’s not very smart, dude,” he told him. “That’s how you get shot. Especially when you point it [in] my direction.”
“When you look at that gun later, it looked about as real as the one on my hip,” Sgt. Parizek told WHO. “That could have been deadly in an instant.”
Sgt. Parizek said that he wasn’t sure the subject understood the potential dangerousness of the situation.
“You can hear [the offer] almost have a scolding tone with that kid,” the sergeant explained. “I don’t know if it looked like it was really soaking in.”
The male in the video was not charged, and Officer Weispfenning has since left the department to pursue other opportunities, KCCI reported.
You can watch footage of the encounter in the video below: