World & Nation

Chief asks community to come together after police kill boy who had fake gun

Cleveland’s police chief on Monday called on the community to come together after police officers killed a 12-year-old boy who was holding a fake gun. 

“A tragedy like this really affects our entire community,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said. “We, members of the police, are a part of the community and we need people to know we’re out there, we’re a part of this community and we’re all together.”

On Saturday, officers responded to a 911 call reporting a male with a gun that was “probably fake” at a recreation center.

“There is a guy with a pistol,” the 911 caller said in an audio recording released by police. “It’s probably fake, but he’s pointing it at everybody.”

Cleveland Police Department officials said witnesses reported a male was in the playground area of the center, waving a gun and pointing it at people. When officers arrived at the recreation center, they told the boy to raise his hands. He did not comply and reached to his waistband for what turned out to be a fake gun, police officials said. Police then shot and killed the boy, who the Cuyahoga County medical examiner identified as Tamir Rice.

Officials said Monday there is video of the shooting, but said they would not release it, citing the ongoing investigation. Officials said they’ll finish the investigation within 90 days and all evidence will be handed over to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office to investigate whether the officers will be prosecuted. Two officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave.

In a summary of the shooting, police describe what Rice was holding as “an ‘airsoft’ type replica gun resembling a semi-automatic pistol, with the orange safety indicator removed.”

Tamir’s family has not spoken publicly about the incident.

“Guns are not toys and we need to teach our kids that,” Williams said Monday.

The death of Tamir, who is black, comes as a high profile grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., is weighing whether to indict a white police officer who killed an unarmed 18-year-old black man in August. The killing sparked unrest and more is feared after the grand jury’s decision.

Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson said he’s not concerned about the potential for similar unrest in Cleveland.

“Whether Ferguson is out there or not, what matters to me is that it happened in Cleveland and to a child,” Jackson said. “We’re always prepared for whatever comes.” 

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