DECATUR, Ill. (AP) - A black man who was shot and wounded by police in central Illinois on Monday was armed with a BB gun that resembled a real handgun, according to police.
Authorities in Decatur said officers responded to reports of a man armed with a gun around 1 a.m. Police initially said the man was armed with a handgun and a large knife strapped to his wrist.
Interim Police Chief James Getz said during an afternoon news conference that officers later determined the man was armed with a BB gun the resembled a firearm. Getz said Officer Andrew Wittmer, who is white, fired one round that "ended the threat."
The investigation was turned over to Illinois State Police, as is standard for any officer-involved shooting, Getz said. The police chief said officers' patrol cars have in-car video that caught part of the encounter. He noted that the officers involved were not equipped with body cameras.
The 40-year-old Decatur man who was shot is listed in serious condition in an area hospital, according to WAND-TV. The Associated Press is not identifying the man because he has not been charged with a crime.
The shooting comes amid recent high profile police-involved shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
Jeanelle Norman, president of the NAACP's chapter in Decatur, said the group will ensure transparency in the investigation.
"We as the NAACP are encouraging the community to stay calm, be patient and let us work through this together," she told The Associated Press.
She said she hopes Decatur can serve as an example for other cities, adding: "We have ensured the community that we will certainly make sure protocol is being followed and that there is transparency in what is being done."
Norman noted that she saw a photo of the BB gun.
"It does look like a real gun. And at nighttime, how do you make a real distinction, is that a BB gun?" she said.
Norman said she is part of the Area Leaders and Education Response Team in Decatur, which has met in recent months to discuss police and community relations. The group, also known as ALERT, was formed by community leaders and police last summer to prepare for the possibility of something like Monday's shooting.