Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed: “How did a 12-year-old go from the rec center to the morgue?”
Child had toy gun but did not point it; caller told 911 it might be fake
Police video of killing to be released at family’s demand, killer cops not identified, put on 3 days paid leave
Investigation to take three months using grand jury
November 26 2014
CLEVELAND — Surveillance video is “very clear on what took place” at a Cleveland playground when a rookie police officer fatally shot a 12-year-old boy brandishing a fake gun, police said Monday.
Tamir Rice was shot twice in the torso Saturday afternoon and died at a hospital Sunday morning.
Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said the officer, one of two who responded to a dispatcher’s call, was less than 10 feet from Tamir under a gazebo when the confrontation took place He declined to say if the video matches the officer’s description of events, saying a full interview of the officer has not been conducted.
Neither he nor Chief Calvin Williams explained why police have not obtained a full statement from the officer.
The boy’s family declined to view the video but it was shown to family representatives, Tomba said. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said the video would be released, but did not say when.
(Update: authorities agreed to release the video Nov. 26 after receiving a letter from the child’s parents demanding it. Click on LETTER FROM TAMIR RICE FAMILY to read it in its entirety. It says in part, “The news of Tamir’s death has devastated our family. Tamir was a bright young man who had his whole life ahead of him. This is a tragedy in our eyes. He was a loving brother. He was a grandson. He was a nephew and cousin. His favorite sport was basketball. Tamir often visited the Cudell Recreation Center to play with friends. Most of all, he enjoyed being around people. Everyone loved him.”)
The identities of the officers have not been made public. They were placed on three days’ paid administrative leave, and will be on restricted duty when they return, police said.
Tomba said the investigation could take three months, after which a grand jury will hear the case to decide if charges are warranted.
Tomba said one officer fired twice after the boy pulled the fake weapon from his waistband but had not pointed it at police. The boy did not make any verbal threats, but he grabbed the replica handgun after being told to raise his hands, Tomba said.
Williams said the “airsoft“-type pellet gun lacked the orange safety tip required at the time of sale and was indistinguishable from a real semiautomatic pistol.
“Guns are not toys,” he said. “We need to teach our kids that.”
“Who would’ve thought he would go so soon?” Gregory Henderson, a close friend of Tamir’s family, told WKYC-TV. “To be 12 years old, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Police, they know what they’re doing.”
Henderson also questioned why police did not use a Taser-type weapon.
“You shot him twice, not once, and at the end of the day you all don’t shoot for the legs, you shoot for the upper body,” Henderson said to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Henderson, identified by that newspaper’s website as Tamir’s father, said Tamir was a “respectful” young man who minded his elders.
A 911 call to police in which a man says the gun was “probably fake” has added to the controversy.
Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, said the officers were not told the caller thought the gun might be fake. He said an officer taking a Taser out when they believe there could be a person with a gun puts the officer at risk, the Plain Dealer reported.
The hacker group Anonymous claimed responsibility Monday for shutting down the City of Cleveland’s website after Rice’s shooting, WKYC said. The FBI is investigating.
Rice’s friends and family brought posters, candles and teddy bears to the scene.
Monday afternoon, a few dozen protesters rallied on the city’s Public Square, and some briefly blocked traffic. About 5 p.m., protesters gathered at the Cudell Recreation Center, where Tamir was killed.
Update: Tuesday after the news of the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case was released, protests ramped up across Cleveland. See photos below: