A Cleveland police officer responding to a call about someone possessing a gun fatally wounded a 12-year-old boy who had what turned out to be an air gun.
Authorities said the weapon that Tamir Rice had looked very much like a real firearm.
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?”
When the officers arrived, the boy did not point the weapon at or otherwise threaten them, Deputy Chief Ed Tomba of Cleveland’s Division of Police told reporter Sunday morning.
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.
The weapon, a large, black BB or pellet gun resembled a semiautomatic pistol. Both officers have been placed on leave.
The senseless violence that is claiming the lives of our young black males must cease!
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