Cleveland police fatally shot a 12-year-old boy with a toy gun on Saturday afternoon. Tamir Rice pointed a BB gun that he had pulled from his waistband at the Cleveland, Ohio, police officers. While the police dispatcher had relayed to the law enforcement officers that the gun could be fake, the orange tip on the end of the gun, which notes that the weapon in a toy, was missing.
Tamir Rice was a "respectful" young man, according to his father, Gregory Henderson. The father of the 12-year-old boy is asking why the Cleveland police simply did not taser his son.
"Who would have thought he would go so soon," Tamir Rice's father asked when standing near the Cleveland park gazebo where he son was shot and killed. "Why not taze him? 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."
A visitor at the Cudell Recreation Center playground called 911 and told the Cleveland police dispatcher that "a guy with a gun was pointing it at people." During the 911 conversation, the caller reportedly said twice that the gun was "probably fake," but that the individual wielding it was "scaring people."
The Cleveland police dispatcher radioed officers in the vicinity and reportedly said, "A male with a gun threatening people" was outside the Cudell Recreation Center. When the officers arrived on the scene, they saw Tamir Rice pick up what they viewed as a black gun, tuck it inside his waistband, and take a few steps. When the Cleveland police officer drew their own weapons and told the 12-year-old boy to raise his hands, he reportedly did not comply.
Instead of raising his hands, Rice reportedly lifted his shirts, reached for the gun sticking out of his waistband, and pulled it out. The Cleveland police officer opened fire on Tamir Rice, shooting him twice – one bullet hit him in the abdomen and the other in the head.
Tamir Rice died early Sunday morning at the MetroHealth Medical Center. Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Jeff Follmer told the media that the officers were responding to what they thought was a male threatening people with a gun at a public park. Follmer also noted that law enforcement officers do not take out a Taser gun when he or she feels the suspect has a gun and is putting lives at risk.
"We're not trained to shoot people in the leg. If we pull that trigger, we feel our lives are in danger," the Cleveland police official added.
Evidence in the Cleveland police shooting will be given to a grand jury to determine if lethal force was justified. Concerns that the fatal shooting of the 12-year-old boy could spark civil unrest, similar to the situation in Ferguson, have already been voiced by residents in the Cleveland area.
Tamir Rice was black, the race of the Cleveland police officers involved in the fatal shooting, and their identities, has not yet been released.
[Images via: The Cleveland Plain Dealer]