BRADENTON — Authorities say the son of a Bradenton police lieutenant stole his father’s gun from a household lock box, took it to school and passed it around to two students, one of whom later pointed it at another student.
Dozens of students witnessed the incident and reported it to law enforcement, leading the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office to arrest a 15-year-old boy Jan. 29 on an aggravated assault charge.
That arrest set off an investigation of Bradenton Police Department Lt. Darrell Akemon, the owner of the gun.
The sheriff’s office had asked the state attorney’s office to review findings that Akemon broke the law by not properly securing the lock box that held the revolver. But the state attorneys later decided not to prosecute Akemon, and he was cleared of wrongdoing by a police internal affairs investigation.
“I’m looking at this as a father. My son did something stupid as an immature kid would do,” Akemon said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Sheriff’s reports say the lock box had the key in it when Akemon’s 14-year-old son took the gun and ammunition while Akemon slept. The weapon was not his department-issued gun. Akemon said the gun was an antique left to him in his father’s will.
On Jan. 27, sheriff’s reports say Akemon’s son brought the gun to Lee Middle School and gave it to another student. Later in the day, Akemon’s son took the gun back and gave it to a second boy, according to sheriff’s reports.
Two days later the second boy pulled the gun out at the Winn Dixie shopping center in the 3400 block of 53rd Avenue West and pointed it at a Southeast High School student during a dispute. Sheriff’s reports say more than 100 students who had just gotten out of school witnessed the alleged assault.
The victim later reported the incident to a school resource officer and the boy with the gun was arrested, but deputies couldn’t find Akemon’s gun, sheriff’s reports said.
Sheriff’s investigators began interviewing dozens of students at Southeast and Lee, and one said Akemon’s son had initially given him the gun, before giving it to the teen involved in the Winn Dixie incident.
The boy also said the suspect in the Winn Dixie incident gave Akemon the loaded gun back after the alleged assault. Akemon’s son told investigators he gave it back to the initial teen who handled it, who hid it in his dresser at home.
Deputies later recovered the gun and ammunition at the boy’s house.
All three teens were arrested on charges of possession of a firearm on school grounds and possession of a firearm by a minor. The teen charged with aggravated assault will be charged as an adult, according to Assistant State Attorney Ed Brodsky.
Lt. Akemon has been exonerated by both prosecutors and his department.
“The investigation found no wrongdoing and I’m dealing with my son,” Akemon said. “It’s unfortunate what happened. My son made poor judgment with what he did. He’s going to have to face the consequences.”
Prosecutors declined to press charges, saying Florida law states that a gun must be loaded for it to be a crime if a minor takes possession of it while it is not under lock and key. Akemon’s son told investigators the gun was not loaded when he took it.
The state attorney’s office left the matter to Bradenton police officials to review, according to court documents.
“It has been determined there are sufficient internal administrative sanctions and remedies available,” a state attorney’s office document states.
Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowki said an internal investigation completed last month cleared Akemon.
Radzilowski said Akemon was not disciplined because prosecutors determined Akemon’s son took an unloaded gun, and because the gun was not owned by the Bradenton Police Department. Radzilowski declined to discuss the investigation further.
The internal affairs investigation is the second done on Akemon a little more than a year. In March 2008, police official suspended him for a week after investigators found he had sexually harassed a female sergeant.
Beth Burger, criminal justice reporter, contributed to this report.