LOS ANGELES (AP) — Prosecutors will not charge a Los Angeles police officer who fired a gun during an off-duty scuffle with a 13-year-old boy, officials announced Wednesday.
Prosecutors would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Kevin Ferguson used excessive force, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said. The fight in Ferguson's Anaheim front yard last year was captured on two widely circulated videos that spurred anti-police protests.
The videos showed Ferguson exchanging angry words with several teenagers who had walked across his lawn. The argument turned physical with the 13-year-old, and Ferguson pulled out a gun and fired it into the ground, sending the teens running and screaming. No one was seriously hurt.
Prosecutors called Ferguson's actions "unwise, immature and flat-out horrible" but said they did not violate the law.
"The evidence does not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Ferguson used an unreasonable amount of force while detaining" the boy, the district attorney's office said in documents.
The boy and one other teen were arrested, but Ferguson was not, fueling the anger of hundreds of protesters who took to the streets in the nights that followed. Dozens were arrested after blocking traffic.
In one of the videos, posted on YouTube and spread on social media, Ferguson said he had heard the boy say he was going to "shoot" him, but the teen insists he said he was going to "sue" him.
Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh conceded that a "reasonable person can hear shoot" instead of sue.
Ferguson's attorney, Larry Hanna, has said Ferguson feared for his safety and that of his sick father's. He says he had reported the teens to police before.
Ferguson was put on desk duty for the LAPD at the time. It's not clear what his current status is.