Monday, November 24, 2014

Tamir Rice: Who is really to blame for the death of this 12 year old boy?

toy gun
Tamir Rice - 12 year old fatally shot in Cudell Park, Cleveland, Ohio
"It's probably fake but, you know what? It's scaring the shit out of everybody."

Cleveland Police Patrolman Association (CPPA)
The spokesman for CPPA, Jeff Fulmer, told a reporter that whether the gun is fake or not, the police go in assuming it is a real gun.   When the police arrived they saw the boy pick the gun up off a picnic bench and put it in his waist band.  When officers got out of the car they told the boy to put his hands up, but he reached for the gun instead.  Fulmer added, "when officers arrived at Cudell Rec Center, all they saw was a male with a weapon."

A 911 caller said he thought the gun might be fake.
Cleveland ohio
The modified toy gun Tamir Rice was waving at people in the park before he was fatally shot by police
airsoft orange tip

From a 911 call: "He's right there by the youth center and he keeps pulling it in and out of his pants. I don't know if it's real or not."
Tamir was armed with a toy Airsoft replica — akin to a BB gun - it had been modified by someone who removed the markings, or was illegally sold without the markings, that distinguish it from a real gun.
 Fulmer: "A male grabs a gun off the picnic bench, puts it into his waistline. As they pull up to the male, they're saying, 'Put your hands up! Put your hands up!' He doesn't do it. He grabs for his shirt, lifts his shirt up, and begins to pull it. That's a threat to a police officer,"  Fulmer said as tragic as the reality is, police video will clear the officer.
 Tamir's mother, Samaria Rice: "I don't know if someone at the rec center gave my son a gun. He doesn't have a gun. He don't own a gun," She said she did not understand why her son got shot.  "They better hope to God they save my son," said Rice.

Sunday morning Tamir died from his injuries.  An angry woman at the shooting scene said the actions of the officer were unnecessary.  "Always kill a black kid right?" 

cleveland shooting
Tamir Rice
Per protocol for officer involved shootings, both officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.  Press conference Monday

First story on the day the shooting took place:

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It doesn't appear, from the 911 calls, and what police officials have said, that this shooting was unjustified.  There were also eye witness accounts and the fact that a gun that officers did not know for sure was fake, was about to be pulled on them, makes this shooting justified.  Contrary to the opinions that will be heard foremost in this case, police shoots an innocent little boy with a toy gun, this is not an isolated case, many people have been wounded or killed by police while waving and/or aiming modified replica guns.  Race and age doesn't seem to be a factor.
Fake Guns Cause Real Tragedy
Police shot and killed a California man on Christmas Eve 2009 after he failed to drop his gun. It turned out the gun was a toy.
Twice during the summer of 2009, Dallas police pulled guns on people waving around fake firearms that looked real. One incident involved a teenager playing with a plastic pellet pistol.
New York City has suffered several tragedies involving toy guns. During the five-year period, 1998 through 2003, there were at least 12 cases in which New York police fired at someone because their toy gun was thought to be a real weapon.
In 1994, a New York City officer fatally shot a 13-year-old boy who was playing cops and robbers with friends in an apartment complex. The boy's toy rifle looked dangerously real to the officer.
Over the past seven years, city officials have seized over 7,200 illegal toy guns from stores and levied $2.4 million in fines. Retailer Party City paid a record $500,000 in fines for 800 violations of the city's toy gun law.[link]
 If filing a lawsuit is his main objective, the attorney for the family needs to look to whomever sold or modified the toy gun, they are also partially responsible for Tamir's death.

Finally, Tamir's mother may not have known that her son was modifying fake guns and taking them to the park because she was likely otherwise occupied.  The blame for Tamir's death does not lay solely with the little boy, the gun seller, or the popular gun culture among young people, his mother, Samaria Rice, also needs to take responsibility for her part.  When Tamir was just ten, she was arrested for drug trafficking.  I've found no mention of Tamir's father at this point.  


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