Just as most of America was turning its attention away from the news for Thanksgiving, the Cleveland Police Department released surveillance footage of the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Tamir was killed by two police officers last weekend, apparently because they believed the Airsoft pellet gun he was carrying was a real weapon. Obvious warning: the video is very upsetting.
In the video, you can see Tamir sitting under a gazebo at the Cudell Recreation Center. A cop car pulls onto the grass next to the gazebo, and two officers — Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback — emerge and draw their guns. Within a couple of seconds, Tamir falls to the ground behind the vehicle. Although Tamir never pointed the toy at the officers, they say he didn’t follow their order to put his hands up, instead reaching for his waistband. According to local media reports, Loehmann was the one who fired the shots that hit Tamir.
Loehmann and Garmback were responding to a 911 call made by someone at the park who said that Tamir was frightening people: “The guy keeps pulling [the gun] out,” said the caller. “It’s probably fake, but you know what, he’s scaring the [expletive] out of [inaudible]. … He’s sitting on the swing right now, but he keeps pulling it in and out of his pants and pointing it at people. Probably a juvenile, you know? … I don’t know if it’s real or not, you know?”
Tamir’s parents, Samaria Rice and Leonard Warner, asked for the release of the video earlier this week, saying, “We feel the actions of the patrol officer who took our son’s life must be made public.” Loehmann and Garmback have been placed on paid leave.