CLEVELAND, OH — A 12-year-old boy was killed by police as he played alone in a park with a toy gun. Video of the shooting draws questions about the prudence of the aggressive police response.
The fatality occurred on November 22, 2014 in the unoccupied picnic area outside Cleveland’s Cudell Recreation Center. Tamir Rice, age 12, was hanging out near the picnic tables, playing with a plastic pistol.
A witness saw the boy and called the government to intervene. While the age and identity of the suspect was not immediately known, the 9-1-1 said twice that it might be a juvenile and that the gun was “probably fake.”
Official channels allege that the caller’s doubts were not relayed to the responding officers of the Cleveland Police Department. The cops were simply dispatched to investigate a report of an armed individual in the park.
The undisputed facts are as follows: Two CPD officers arrived at the scene: Frank Gramback, 46, and Timothy Loehmann, 26. During the confrontation, rookie Officer Loehmann drew his weapon and fired twice, fatally wounding Rice.
Deputy Chief Ed Tomba claimed that Rice drew the (fake) pistol from his waistband after being told to raise his hands. He confirmed that the pistol was a replica — a black Airsoft pistol used to shoot plastic BBs — but that was only discovered after the shooting. The chief said the boy did not make any verbal threats and the gun was never pointed at officers.