Twelve year old Tamir Rice was in a public park, swinging around what appeared to be an authentic gun, when a citizen of the Cleveland neighborhood saw him and called 911. The unidentified caller told 911 that he assumed it to be a toy gun, but that authorities may want to check it out to ensure public safety.
Several minutes later, police arrived on the scene and within seconds, video shows the twelve-year-old shot dead in front of the pavilion. The officers stated that they shouted at him several times to drop the weapon, which later proved to be an airsoft toy gun.
Why Tamir was in the park acting aggressively with the toy gun, and why he refused to drop the assumed weapon when he was told to, is not known and may never be known. Family and friends described him as “funny, loving, and full of energy.”
The two police officers, rookie officer Timothy Loehmann and veteran Cleveland police officer Frank Garmback, arrived on the scene and Rice was shot by Loehmann within 1.5 seconds of their arrival. Cleveland police say they continue to investigate the incident which has been clearly documented by several camera angles and witness accounts. The officers have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.
Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, said the officers were not told the caller thought the gun might be fake.
The officer called to the playground outside a city recreation center saw the pistol sitting on a table or bench, and watched the boy grab it and put it in his waistband, Follmer said.
Demonstrators marched on November 24 in Cleveland to peacefully protest Rice’s shooting in the same week that violent riots broke out in Ferguson, Missouri, over the shooting death of Michael Brown. While violence was initially feared, none erupted in Cleveland.
Tamir Rice’s parents, Samaria Rice and Leonard Warner, released a public statement regarding their son’s death.
“It is our prayer and request for citizens in the City of Cleveland and throughout Northeast Ohio to remain calm at this time. We ask for the public to demonstrate peacefully.”
“Though the hurt our family feels is too painful for words to describe, we still have faith in the justice system. We thank the community for their prayers, encouragement and support. It has helped us during this difficult time.”
“We will release information about Tamir’s funeral in the days to come. We have no further comment at this time.”
[Photo by AP]