UI student shot by police had pellet gun

UI student shot by police had pellet gun

CHAMPAIGN — A University of Illinois student shot in the leg by police Thursday night was repeatedly ordered to put down the gun police saw in his hands.

The series of commands from UI police officers Ezzard "Chuck" Hoskins and A.J. Martin and Champaign County sheriff's deputy Cory Christensen preceded the officers' decision to fire at Samuel Applebaum, the 23-year-old man who had raised a gun in their direction.

It turns out what Applebaum was pointing at them was a pellet gun, police said.

"The gun recovered from the scene was determined later to be a Beretta air pellet pistol, which very closely resembled a real handgun. This gun had no features that would indicate it was not a real gun unless closely inspected," said a joint release from UI Police Chief Craig Stone and Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh.

The respective department leaders said they were confident that their officers "acted correctly and within their respective departments' training and protocols" when they shot at Applebaum, who's from Flossmoor.

He is a senior studying integrative biology, UI police spokesman Pat Wade said.

Applebaum was taken to Carle Hospital and remained there Friday. His condition was not immediately available.

All three officers remain on administrative leave with pay.

First Assistant State's Attorney Steve Ziegler said it's possible that when Applebaum is released, he could be charged with a crime.

Without having benefit of the Illinois State Police reports, which would include his medical and mental condition, Ziegler was unable to say exactly what that would be.

Possibilities include aggravated assault, a misdemeanor, or disorderly conduct, a Class 4 felony.

"I believe he's the one who called in with a report of an armed subject with a handgun near Locust and John," said Ziegler.

That would constitute the filing of a false report should police confirm that the gun was indeed a pellet gun, incapable of deadly force.

The shooting happened shortly after 6:22 p.m., when police were called to the intersection of East John Street and South Locust Street for a report of a man loading a semiautomatic handgun.

The intersection has apartment buildings on all four corners that cater to UI students. It's just south of Green Street and west of First Street.

Of the three police officers, Hoskins is the longest-serving, having been employed by UIPD since 2007. Martin was hired by the UIPD in January 2012.

Christensen has been a Champaign County sheriff's deputy since March 31, 2016. He currently is the department's canine handler. Prior to his employment as a county patrol deputy, he worked as a Monticello police officer for two years. He is the son of retired UI Police Chief Jeff Christensen.

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