The Cleveland Police Department is the latest law enforcement agency to come under scrutiny for killing an unarmed black person.
However, Tamir Rice, 12, was carrying a toy gun that was confused for a real gun, even though police gave him no chance to explain it was fake.
Police say they pulled up, ordered him to place his hands in the air, but instead, he reached for the gun in his waistband, which is when they shot him dead.
A surveillance video released Wednesday shows the boy wandering back and forth for several minutes before sitting in a gazebo, standing up again in the seconds before the cops arrive.
The video is grainy and contains no sound but it doesn’t appear as if police told him anything considering he was shot before the cop even appears to have stepped out of the car. The shooting begins just after the 7:00 mark.
The cop who shot him is a rookie, 26-year-old Timothy Loehmann. The cop driving the car, who never had a chance to step out, is 46-year-old Frank Garmback, who’s been with the department since 2008.
Police claim Loehmann yelled at the boy three times to drop the gun, but that doesn’t appear likely.
Rice was holding an Airsoft gun that are realistic replica guns but normally come with an orange nozzle to show that it is not real, but police say that had been removed.
Police were responding to a call from a man who reported a young man walking around, pointing a gun, but also saying it was “probably fake.”
But the dispatcher never told cops that it could be fake.
Rice can be seen in the footage, videotaped in a park near Cleveland’s Cudell Recreation Center, holding and pointing the replica gun, playing with snow and talking on his cell phone.
The caller told the dispatcher that it was unclear if the weapon was real or not.
“It’s probably fake, but you know what, it’s scaring the [expletive] out of me,” the caller said.
“He’s pulling it in and out of his pants, and pointing it at people. He’s probably a juvenile,” he added. The caller then left the area.
Soon after, a police dispatcher called officers to the scene, but didn’t mention the 911 caller’s suspicion that the gun might be fake.
The release of the video footage involving Rice’s death comes just as the Cleveland Police Department is under fire for the death of 37-year-old Tanesha Anderson who allegedly was killed after police officers slammed her head on the pavement while attempting to arrest her.
Sadly, what the cops failed to realize in Anderson’s situation, was that she was mentally ill. BuzzFeed.com reported that another family member called 911 because Anderson was disturbing the peace. Her parents, according to the Buzzfeed report, said Anderson suffered critical mental health issues.
The United States Department of Justice is investigating that incident and a grand jury will decide whether or not Loehmann will face charges in the death of Rice.
You can reach reporter Alexandra Gratereaux on twitter: @GalexReporter for questions, comments or story ideas.