The identity of a 12-year-old boy, Tamir Rice, has been released after he was shot dead by police while reaching for a replica gun in Cleveland on Saturday, after he was reportedly aiming the gun at others and waving it around wildly.
MOSCOW, November 24 (Sputnik) — The boy, african-American, was carrying a replica Airsoft pistol, whose safety markings had been removed. He was located in a playground near his home, when a concerned citizen called into 911 that a young boy was waving a gun, saying there was “a guy with a pistol, and it's probably fake… but he's pointing it everybody.”
Two police officers, one a first year rookie and the other a 15 year veteran, responded to the incident. They were told by the dispatcher that there was a black male with a gun, no mention was made that it was fake. When they arrived at the playground where Tamir was located, they ordered him to raise his hands. Instead, Tamir reached for the gun in his waistband. Tamir did not make any verbal threats nor did he point the gun at police officers, said Cleveland deputy police chief Ed Tomba to the BBC. The police officers fired twice, striking the boy in the abdomen.
"The young man had the weapon in his waistband. He pulled the weapon out. One of our officers fired two shots, striking the young man," said Deputy Chief Ed Tomba with Cleveland Police according to CBS news.
He was taken the hospital on Saturday, but later succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.
How Tamir acquired the replica gun has not yet been reported. According to CBS news, his mother did not allow him to have items like this at home, and reasoned that he must have acquired the gun through a friend.
The incident, bound to be compared to the killing of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, is already being portrayed in the media as racially motivated. The Sydney Morning Herald chose to call Tamir in their headline “Not a boy with a toy in a park, but a black male with a gun.” Unlike the other two incidents, in this case, the boy was armed with what appeared to be a weapon.
“The officer had no clue he was a 12-year-old,” Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president Jeff Follmer told WKYC-TV. “He had no clue it was a toy gun, he was kind of shocked. He was concentrating more on the hands than on the age. It’s not, Go shoot a 12-year-old with a good fake gun.’ It’s not that scenario at all. This is a compassionate officer.”
The lawyer for the family has come out an said that the family is going to conduct a “parallel” investigation to find out "how exactly an innocent young 12-year-old boy could be killed playing at the park". He went onto say that "If in fact we determine that Tamir's rights are violated, we will proceed with civil action against the police," he told BBC.
The lawyer has, however, ruled out that the incident was one of racism.
The names and races of the responding police officers has yet to be released.
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