A 12-year-old boy was shot by police at a playground for carrying a pellet gun at a city park. Cleveland Police were called to a playground on Saturday after a 911-caller reported that a boy was pulling a gun in and out of his pants and pointing it at people. The 911-caller said that he thought the gun was probably fake, but he could not be sure. It is unclear if the dispatcher shared that information with the responding officers.
Tamir Rice had an airsoft gun that resembled a semi-automatic pistol that did not have the bright orange safety indicator on the muzzle. Officers on the scene ordered the youth to raise his hands, but then fired two shots when the boy pulled the pellet gun from his waistband. The boy did not make any verbal threats or point the gun at police.
Chief Calvin Williams said,
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Our officers at times are required to make critical decisions in a split-second. Unfortunately, this is one of those times.
The two unidentified officers involved in this incident have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. There is surveillance video of the shooting, but police have not released it publicly because it is considered evidence.
L.Z. Granderson commented on CNN that this is not a new situation. He cited two examples of police overreaction when John Crawford III was shot and killed in a Dayton, Ohio, Walmart and when Eric Garner was choked by police on a New York sidewalk:
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This is a story we have heard time and time again. We know that a man was shot, killed by police officers in a Walmart carrying a toy gun in an open-carry state. We know that there was young man in New York City who was strangled to death by police officers on tape.
Granderson poses the question that police are more aggressive towards black men because there is a perception that they are dangerous.
Maybe the consistency here is that these are young men who are perceived to be threats, who are unarmed that police officers get a little more aggressive than what they need to because of all their pre-conceived notions about what black men can do.
(h/t: Weasel Zippers)
Image credit: CNN screenshot
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