Police shoot dead a black 13-year-old boy holding toy gun

POLICE in Ohio shot dead a black 13-year-old boy who they said brandished a firearm which turned out to be a BB gun.

Teenager Tyree King was taken to hospital in Columbus where he died just after 8pm on Wednesday evening.

Police were responding to a call about an armed robbery in Columbus involving multiple suspects.

They said when they arrived on the scene, the victim told them that they had been approached by a group of people wanting money and one of them had a gun.

Police officers found three men matching the suspects' description, two of whom fled on foot.

"Officers followed the males to the alley ... and attempted to take them into custody when one suspect pulled a gun from his waistband," police said in a statement, as reported by the Associated Press.

"One officer shot and struck the suspect multiple times."

Police said what they thought was a gun being drawn from the child's waistband was actually a BB gun - a type of air gun that shoots steel pellets - with an attached laser sight. None of the officers was injured.

The killing comes almost two years after police in Cleveland, Ohio, shot dead 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was holding a pellet gun.

Officers spoke with one of the male suspects who was with King. They interviewed him and released him pending further investigation. He was not injured.

The Columbus police division said, as with all police-related shootings, the officers will receive "mandated psychological support counselling and will have the chance to "take leave time to assist in recovery from a traumatic experience".

NBC reported that the officer who fired the gun worked for the force for nine years and had only recently been transferred to that neighbourhood.

As reported by WBNS-TV, police said they spoke with witnesses to the robbery and the shooting, and were still searching for the third suspect.

The shooting is still under investigation.

In 2014, police shot black teenager Tamir Rice within seconds of arriving on the scene.

His death sparked protests across the country. The two officers involved were not indicted last December and Tamir's family received $6 million in a civil rights lawsuit settlement in April.

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