The kid, Tamir Rice, did not threaten the police and was armed only with an airsoft gun. Police maintain that the fake weapon was missing its identifying orange tip, however.
Here's how it happened: Rice went to a local park to play with his friends on Saturday afternoon. Somebody saw them with the gun and called 911; the caller specifically told the operator that it was "probably fake." Nevertheless, the officer dispatched to the scene saw Rice putting the gun into his waistband and told him to raise his hands. According to The Huffington Post, the kid did not immediately comply; instead he tried to take the gun out of his pants. The officer fired twice, hitting Rice in the stomach. He died Sunday.
The Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association maintains that the dispatcher did not relay the information that Rice's gun was probably fake. That's obviously a very important detail, if true. And we will certainly need more details to render any kind of judgment. The officer has been placed on leave, and the department is investigating. The U.S. Department of Justice was, in fact, already investigating Cleveland PD for its aggressive use of force in the past.
So, we'll see. But this is terrible, whatever the justification—or lack thereof.
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