A 12-year-old boy died in a hospital a day after a police officer shot him for carrying a gun which turned out to be a mere replica.
The boy, identified as Tamir Rice, succumbed to a gunshot wound on his stomach at Metro Health Medical Center, according to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The boy’s mother, Samaria Rice, said his son went to a playground across the street from their home with his friends and older sister.
In a statement, the Cleveland Police said two officers were sent to the Cudell Recreation Center to investigate a report that a male is waving a gun and pointing it at people.
The officers who went to the playground said they saw Tamir and ordered him to raise his hands. But instead of raising his hands, the boy reached for the gun tucked in his waistband. That’s when the police officers fired, hitting the boy in the torso.
The police realized that the gun was an airsoft type replica only after the shooting. The replica gun resembled a semi-automatic pistol with the orange safety indicator removed.
The Cleveland Police deputy chief Ed Tomba said they are investigating the circumstances of the shooting. He added the officers who went to the scene were not made aware that the caller described the gun as “probably fake.”
Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, said the police have to assume every gun is real.
“When we don’t, that’s the day we don’t come home,” he said.
The witness who called 911 dispatchers told them that a boy on a swing was pointing a pistol that was “probably fake” and scaring everyone.
The boy was pulling the gun in and out of his trousers. “I don’t know if it’s real or not,” the witness said.
The two officers involved in the shooting of the boy were placed on administrative leave while the investigation is ongoing.