Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by a Cleveland police officer on Saturday (Nov. 22) attempting to wield a BB gun that was mistaken for a real weapon. After being asked to put his hands up and instead reaching into his waistband, one officer fired two shots at Rice. He was pronounced dead at the MetroHealth Medical Center on Sunday (Nov. 23).
Police arrived to the Cudell Recreation Center after a 911 call was made. One responding officer was reportedly a veteran, while the other was a rookie. The rookie allegedly fired the shots.
“There’s a guy in there with a pistol, you know, it’s probably fake, but he’s like pointing it at everybody,” the 911 caller said, according to Cleveland.com. “He’s sitting on a swing right now, but he’s pulling it in and out of his pants and pointing it at people. He’s probably a juvenile, you know?”
Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association President Jeff Follmer remarked that the shooting officer was not aware that Rice was a child, and that the officer as following what was taught in the police academy, reports CNN.
“I can tell you the officer that fired had no clue that he was 12, he just thought it was an older male,” he said. “There was more concentration on his hands because we are taught in the academy that hands will kill you.”
While the identity of the shooting officer has not been released, the attorney for Rice’s family, Tim Kucharski, stated that the issue behind the case was not one that dealt with race.
“This is not a black and white issue. This is a right and wrong issue,” he said.
Police are currently investigating surveillance video of the incident. Both responding officers are on administrative leave.