Authorities identify 12-year-old shot and killed by police after brandishing fake gun

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Small memorial where shooting happened, courtesy FOX8

Small memorial where shooting happened, courtesy FOX8

CLEVELAND, Ohio (CNN) – A Cleveland police officer responding to a call about a person with a gun fatally wounded a 12-year-old boy brandishing what turned out to be an air gun that looked very much like a real firearm, police said early Sunday.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner also identified there boy as Tamir E. Rice, reported FOX8 in Cleveland.

The shooting Saturday afternoon came as the nation nervously awaited a grand jury decision on whether to charge the police officer who killed African-American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August.

The attorney for the family of the Cleveland youngster, who also was black, downplayed any possible racial connotations to the shooting.

“This is not a black and white issue. This is a right and wrong issue,” attorney Tim Kucharski said.

Police were summoned to the scene outside a recreation center by a 911 caller who said someone — possibly a juvenile — was pointing a gun at people.

“There’s a guy in there with a pistol, you know, it’s probably fake, but he’s like pointing it at everybody,” the caller said, according to audio provided by CNN affiliate WEWS.

“He’s sitting on a swing right now, but he’s pulling it in and out of his pants and pointing it at people,” the caller said. “He’s probably a juvenile, you know?”

FOX8 reported one 911 caller said the suspect was “probably a juvenile” and that the gun was “probably a fake.”


When the two officers arrived, the boy did not point the weapon at them or otherwise threaten them, Deputy Chief Ed Tomba of the Cleveland Division of Police told reporters early Sunday.

But he did reach for the weapon, Tomba said.

“The officers ordered him to stop and to show his hands and he went into his waistband and pulled out the weapon,” he said.

Tomba showed reporters the weapon — a large, black BB- or pellet-type replica gun resembling a semiautomatic pistol. An orange tip indicating the gun was an air gun had been removed, police said.

It wasn’t clear if officers had been told the weapon was not a firearm, Officer Ali Pillow told CNN on Sunday.

Both officers have been placed on leave, police said.

The 12-year-old’s name has not been released by police. He died early Sunday at MetroHealth Medical Center following surgery, according to the hospital and the family’s attorney.

People who had gathered around the early-morning media scrum with Tomba hurled angry questions at him, accusing police of unnecessary violence.

“It’s a toy gun and a 12-year-old,” a woman in the crowd yelled as reporters tried to ask questions, according to video provided by WEWS.

While saying a thorough and open investigation was under way, Tomba defended the officers’ actions in what he called a “very, very tragic situation.”

“They were doing their job,” he said.

Police shootings of African-Americans, particularly young men, have been under rising scrutiny in recent months following the shooting of Brown by a white officer following a brief confrontation in Ferguson.

A grand jury is expected to soon make a decision whether Officer Darren Wilson should face criminal charges in that incident, which resulted in widespread protests over police violence against African-Americans.

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  • Sonia

    The real question is why would a toy maker produce a product that would soo real. He was a kid doing what boys do at that age. Being silly and foolish seeking attention.

  • Diane Cheatwood

    I guess we just need to quit making toy guns or BB guns to keep our kids from getting shot. So sorry to the family of this young man.

  • whatever

    ““The officers ordered him to stop and to show his hands and he went into his waistband and pulled out the weapon.” Anyone with common sense and a basic understanding of how to behave would have stopped and shown his/her hands. Anyone, and I mean anyone of any sex, race, or age can expect to be shot dead for going into their waistband and pulling out something that appears to be a gun when police are ordering them to show their hands. Why should a police officer have to give the person a chance to shoot first just to prove they 1. have a real gun and 2. intend to shoot?? The parent(s) were negligent by not teaching this kid to follow instructions from authority figures and especially in a situation like this. Obviously, they didn’t teach him any proper behavior if he, at the age of 12, thought it was alright to run around scaring adult strangers by brandishing what looked to them like a real gun. Watch while the blacks of this country proceed to blame the police and whites and everyone but themselves for what results from the aberrant frightening and criminal behavior they seem to condone in their children. I’d advise white males to be on guard for random attacks from blacks since that’s what happened after the “trayvon” verdict and it’ll happen again after Ferguson. In all three of these cases, the black was not a victim but set up someone else to have to kill them in self defense.

    • angela

      wow whatever! Your obviously WHITE… This is horrible it ain’t got nothing to do with black or white. But aren’t these officers trained with their weopons how to disarm? Non lethal shot?

  • tjssnnisdsj

    :/ mornon kid why would you even be out in the town playing with a toy gun bad parenting and stupid kid cops totally within their rights

      • Daniel

        See thats the sad thing, when i was a kid i always wanted to be the cop, the hero. Sadly to this kid the cops were the bad guys, the media, and some individuals are making all people of law enforcement villians, and the more they are treated as villians instead of our friends and neighbors, they will become more and more protective of theirselves out of fear, I think a lot of us just don’t realize that they are human and they make human instinct decisions. Lets all just take a breath and calm down so no more people and families have to get hurt.

    • DuhNigreus

      In a couple years, he would be as big as “gentle giant”, Mike Brown, and just as deadly. Also, in a few years, he would be legal for you to date.

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