After the incident, Tampa Police Public Information Officer Laura McElroy said the two officers involved were giving him Neal orders to stop and show his hands, to drop the weapon "But instead of complying, he continued to point the weapon at officer, " she said." At that point, they were in fear of their lives. They fired at least one shot in self-defense."
West Tampa Community activist Dwight Bolden did most of the talking at a news conference on Thursday held in front of the West Tampa Library. He said there were clearly two different opinions of what happened last Sunday night. The police version, and from those who observed what happened inside Central Court Apartments.
"We want the evidence to show that he had a gun in his hand," Bolden said. "But we don’t believe that."
West Tampa community activist Joe Robinson observed the news conference and said the community has two questions: Was there a weapon in Javon's hands, and was it excessive force on the part of the TPD?
He said that because of the upcoming Republican National Convention coming to town as well as lingering feelings regarding the Trayvon Martin killing, "African-Americans are watching any police shooting."
He said everyone is aware that an investigation can't be completed hastily, but said the community wants some answers.
"This is summer. It’s hot. People want to know where we are," adding a bit ominously, "If there are no fingerprints on the weapon, we gotta problem."
Poet and community activist Life said the media was doing a "crappy job of distracting from the real issue," which he said was not whether Javon Neal had a gun or not, but why he was shot. He referred to how James Holmes shot 70 people in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado last week, killing 12, and yet was able to sit in a courtroom this past Monday morning hearing the charges against him.
"Javon Neal had the same right as James Holmes had to live and stand trial. To be proven guilty or innocent. The Tampa Police Department acted as judge, jury and executioner when they came on the scene."
Officer Pryor has been placed on paid administrative leave while police investigate. He does have a record when it comes to shooting an unarmed suspect. He did so last August, shooting and ultimately killing a 26-year-old Tampa resident named Carlos Roberto Laboy, who police were pursuing on a robbery charge. The Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office ultimately declared Pryor's actions justified.
The killing has galvanized parts of the black community in Tampa. Activist Michelle Williams has created a website to raise funds for a proper burial of Javon.