A 12-year-old who was shot by a Cleveland cop on Saturday afternoon died in a hospital on Sunday morning. The boy, whose name was Tamir Rice, had been hanging around the swing set at the Cudell Recreation Center where, according to a 911 call, he was pointing an Airsoft pellet gun at people on the playground. According to NBC News, the caller told the dispatcher that the gun was “probably fake” and that its owner was “probably a juvenile,” though the Cleveland police officers’ union claims that the message wasn’t passed along to the two cops sent to the scene.
According to several reports, the officers — a rookie and a ten-year veteran of the force — ordered Tamir to raise his hands. Instead, he pulled up his shirt and removed the gun from his waistband. One cop then opened fire, hitting the boy in the stomach. The police say that Tamir never pointed his gun at the officers, who quickly realized that it was just a toy with the orange sticker designed to distinguish it from a real weapon removed.
“You have to look at this in the context that this is a 12-year-old boy, not a 35-year-old man with a criminal history. You can’t expect adult reactions out of children,” said Timothy Kucharski, the lawyer representing Tamir’s family. “The family is devastated. I would go as far to say inconsolable. [Tamir’s mother] woke up yesterday with a son. Today, she woke up without a son.”
The Cleveland police department is investigating the shooting, and the officers responsible for the death have been placed on leave. A grand jury will decide whether they will face criminal charges.