At the request of his family, police have released “911” calls and surveillance footage showing the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in an update that has the Cleveland community in an uproar.
Tamir was standing outside flashing an “airsoft”-type pellet gun, with the range safety tip missing when an onlooker, who was sitting across the street, called the cops to inform them of his behavior. The caller told the operator twice that the gun was “probably fake” and said “I don’t know if it’s real or not.” Two officers — Timothy Loehmann, 26, Frank Garmack, 46 (both are currentyy on administrative leave) — arrived to the scene and Loehmann (a rookie who joined the force in March) shot Tamir within seconds. The dispatcher who took the initial call never informed the police that the gun may have been fake — a miscommunication that is now being investigated.
The recently released video shows the disturbing encounter and how it took no time for the the officer to gun down the boy. Loehmann claims he told Tamir to put the gun down three times which cannot be heard on the grainy video. However, the video does show the officers pulling up to the scene just about 10 feet away from Tamir, who then reached in his waistband before Loehmann jumped out his vehicle and shot him.
Deputy chief Edward Tomba attempted to answer questions about the tragic incident but fell short when he couldn’t explain certain details, like why the officers pulled up so close to Tamir. “That’s a legitimate question and we do have a process for that,” Tomba said.
Rice’s family is devastated by the loss and issued this statement.
“It is our belief that this situation could have been avoided and that Tamir should still be here with us […] The video shows one thing distinctly: the police officers reacted quickly.” Cleveland protestors have taken to the streets chanting, “No justice, no peace,” with linked arms.
After the investigation, the case will go to a grand jury who will decide if the officers should be brought up on charges.
In a similar case, John Crawford was gunned down after being seen walking around an Ohio Walmart carrying an air rifle they sold int he store. A grand jury decided against indicted the officers who hastily shot and killed him. There was also surveillance footage of the killing.
Rice and Crawford’s shooting comes in the wake of Michael Brown’s death. The 18-year-old aspiring college student was shot and killed by Darren Wilson. A grand jury voted against indicting Wilson, sending the newlywed to go free.