Family protests 12-year-old's shooting death, police reveal surveillance video

by Christian Examiner, |
Tamir E. Rice, 12, was shot to death at a Cleveland park by police on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. | Family photo

CLEVELAND (Christian Examiner) -- Tamir Rice's death in Cleveland sparked demonstrations Monday night, according to reports, with more than 100 protestors gathering to support the 12-year-old's family. Police shot the adolescent Saturday while he was holding a BB gun.

Demonstrators held signs like "Danger Police in Area" and "Police Terror: This Stops Today" while chanting "Justice for Tamir!" the Associated Press reported. Many in the crowd drew comparisons to Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old black man shot to death in Ferguson. Missouri.

Rice's parents were joined by community members and organizers to remember the child. Some left candles, teddy bears and other items at the playground's gazebo near where the shooting happened.

"We will not accept any excuse why this young man was shot down unjustly," Art McKoy, a Cleveland community activist, told the crowd.

Deputy Chief Edward Tomba said police have surveillance video of the shooting, so the events that led to Rice's death are "very clear." They have not released the video publicly because the family is still grieving, but allowed the parents to view it.

Rice was at the Cudell Recreation Center with his sister and friend when the shooting occurred. The airsoft replica handgun that he was playing with usually comes with an orange safety tip, but it had been removed, CNN reported.

There's "a guy with a pistol, and it's probably fake ... but he's pointing it at everybody," a caller told 911. "I don't know if it's real or not." Jeff Folmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, told the Associated Press the two officers who responded were not informed the pistol could have been fake.

When the officers arrived on scene, they approached Rice and told him to put his hands up. He did not comply, but instead pulled the replica gun out of his waistband. Reports state he did not point the BB gun at the officers or make any verbal threats.

"That's when the officer fired," Deputy Chief Ed Tomba told reporters. Rice was hit two times in the chest, and from there he was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center.

The 12-year-old died Sunday morning.

The boy's father, Gregory Henderson, asked why non-lethal means were not used.

"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," he told The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

"He had his whole life ahead (of him)," Henderson said to WKYC. "To be 12 years old, he doesn't know what he's doing. Police they know what they're doing."