Keivon Young was shot by San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputies in what his lawyer said was a case of mistaken identity during a manhunt for a murder suspect.
The 18-year-old survived, but he was arrested for resisting arrest and possessing knives. He now faces trial in a case his lawyer says is politically motivated.
"They are literally getting payback on this kid because they recognize down the road he is likely to sue them for a civil rights violation and use of excessive force," said Young's attorney Martin Kaufman.
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The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department declined to comment for this story. They referred NBC4 to the press release from the incident.
Deputies were on a stakeout of the home where they thought their murder suspect's sister lived. But she hadn't lived there for years.
They say they spotted Young "sneaking through people's front yards and hiding behind bushes," the press release said.
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Deputies fired their weapons after they said Young reached into his waistband and "withdrew two large knives."
But in court transcripts, the department's own case agent says the knives came out after the shooting.
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"The subject fell down to the ground," said Edward Bachman. "They moved in toward(s) him. At that point, he removed 2 large knives from his waistband."
Young didn't know the men in plainclothes were deputies, he testified according to audio testimony released by his attorney. He said he didn't hear them identify themselves as law enforcement.
An NBC4 review of the audio found a garbled yell, a deputy say, "Let me see your (expletive) hands! " and then immediate gunfire, but no clear sheriff's department identification.
He said he had the knives as protection against people who threatened him earlier that night.
"I didn’t even know who you guys were, you ride up on me with flashlights," he said. "I didn’t know nothing."
After the shooting, Young is heard crying for help.
Young asked the deputies if he was going to jail.
"Probably not. I don’t know, dude. You didn’t assault us, right?" said one of the deputies at the scene. "But you have to understand when we are cops and we are coming up on you…"
Four months after the shooting, Young remains in jail.
His family is devastated.
"It’s really, really hard," said his mother, Mia Carter. "I just don’t know what to do. And then I hear my son crying to them, asking them, 'Why did you shoot me?'"
Young was arrested on two counts of assaulting a peace officer. Those charges were changed to two felony counts of resisting arrest and one felony count for possession of dirk or dagger.
Young's father, Claiborne, says he's hoping his son gets a fair trial.
"Somebody gonna have a heart, and understand and realize, 'Hey, we messed up,'" he said.