Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy, was shot and killed by police officers in Cleveland, Ohio, on Saturday when his air pistol was mistaken for a real firearm.

Cleveland Police Kill 12yr old with fake gun

Rice, 12, was playing at a park with an air gun when police were called to the scene. According to the Cleveland Police Department, the officers who answered the call asked the boy to put his hands in the air and fired when Rice reached towards the gun in his waistband instead. Rice reportedly took the toy gun out of his waistband, but did not point it at the officers or issue any threats. The policeman who shot Rice was less than 10 feet away from the boy at the time of the shooting.

“Our officers at times are required to make critical decisions in a split second. Unfortunately, this was one of those times,” said Chief Calvin Williams.

The Cleveland police also said that the orange tip, normally placed on a toy gun to distinguish it from a real firearm, had been removed, making the toy “indistinguishable form a real firearm.”

911 Call: Gun Is “Probably Fake”

Police claim that they had no reason to believe the gun might be fake, though the man who placed the 911 call told the operator that he believed the gun to be fake, but could not be sure. “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.

Police maintain that the responding officers had not heard the call, nor were they told that the caller believed the gun to be fake. Both are currently on leave.

Cleveland PD Investigating The Shooting

“I can tell you the officer that fired had no clue that he was 12, he just thought it was an older male. There was more concentration on his hands because we are taught in the academy that hands will kill you,” said Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association President Jeff Follmer.

Gregory Henderson, Rice’s father, expressed dismay as to why his son wouldn’t obey the instructions from the police, and also asked why the police didn’t aim to incapacitate his son instead of kill him or use a Taser instead.

Why not taze him? You shot him twice, not once, and at the end of the day you all don’t shoot for the legs, you shoot for the upper body,” Henderson said.

Rice was shot twice and taken to the MetroHealth Medical Center for surgery, where he died early on Sunday. The department’s Use of Deadly Force Investigation Team is currently investigating the shooting, and has reportedly recovered clear footage of the incident. The investigation could take over three months, and only once the police investigation is over will the evidence be presented to prosecutors and, perhaps, a grand jury.

Ferguson Grand Jury

The police have yet to take an official statement from the officer who killed Rice, reportedly in his first year as a police officer. Furthermore, the race of the officer has not been revealed, but neither the authorities, nor Rice’s family are claiming the shooting was particularly racially motivated.

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

Rice’s death comes just as a grand jury in Ferguson is getting ready to announce their decision on whether or not to indict Offier Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. The grand jury decision will be announced on Monday, Nov. 24.

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