AFRICANGLOBE – Tamir Rice’s father asked why Cleveland police officers shot his 12-year-old son Saturday afternoon, instead of using a stun gun to subdue him when they said he pulled what turned out to be a BB gun from his waistband.
Gregory Henderson told reporters Tamir was a “respectful” young man who minded his elders, and he couldn’t comprehend that his son would not follow police orders.
“Who would have thought he would go so soon?” Henderson asked underneath the gazebo where his son was mortally wounded.
Here’s the police account of what happened:
A caller told police “a guy with a gun was pointing it at people” on the swing set in Cudell Commons park, outside the Cudell Recreation Center. The caller said twice that the gun was “probably fake,” but said the person was scaring people.
Police dispatchers radioed to officers that there was “a male with a gun threatening people” outside the rec center. They responded and saw the boy pick up what they thought was a black gun, tuck it in his waistband and take a few steps.
Officers drew their weapons and told the boy to raise his hands. Instead, he lifted his shirt and reached for the handle of the gun sticking out of his waistband. He pulled out the gun, and the officer opened fire, shooting twice, hitting him at least once in the abdomen.
Tamir died at MetroHealth Medical Center early Sunday morning, and police later determined the gun was actually a BB gun, with the orange safety cap removed.
Henderson, who said he was separated from Tamir’s mother but saw his son frequently, not only questioned that his son wouldn’t follow orders, but wondered why officers needed to open fire.
“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.
Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president Jeff Follmer said the responding officers thought there was a male with a gun in a public park threatening people, and said an officer taking a Taser out when he or she believes there could be a person with a gun puts the officer at risk.
“We’re not trained to shoot people in the leg,” Follmer said. “If we pull that trigger, we feel our lives are in danger.”
The police department’s Use of Deadly Force Investigation Team is investigating the shooting and has pulled security footage from the recreation center. The officers have been placed on administrative leave during the investigation, which is standard procedure for police involved in deadly force investigations.
The evidence will eventually be handed over to a grand jury, which will decide whether the officer was justified in using force.
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