Police shooting of youngster probed

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Published: Monday 24th November 2014 by The News Editor

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A 12-year-old boy has been shot dead by US police after brandishing what turned out to be a BB gun.

The death in Cleveland, Ohio, has triggered an investigation and calls for such weapons to be brightly coloured or bear special markings.

Tamir Rice died from his wounds on Sunday, a day after officers responded to a call about someone waving a “probably fake” gun at a playground.

Deputy police chief Ed Tomba said one officer fired twice after the boy pulled the weapon – which was lacking the orange safety indicator usually found on the muzzle – from his waistband but had not pointed it at police.

The boy did not make any verbal threats but grabbed the “airsoft” handgun after being told to raise his hands, Mr Tomba said.

“That’s when the officer fired,” he added.

Police said the weapon resembled a semi-automatic handgun.

The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the officers are a first-year rookie and a 10-year department veteran.

The police department has collected surveillance video and other evidence and will present it to the county prosecutor’s office, the newspaper said.

It said after reviewing the evidence prosecutors will present the case to a grand jury, which will decide whether the officer was justified in using force against the boy.

An attorney for the boy’s family, Timothy Kucharski, said Tamir went to the park with friends on Saturday afternoon, but he did not know the details of what led to his shooting.

A man who called police told dispatchers the boy was on a swing set and pointing a pistol that was “probably fake” and scaring everyone.

“I don’t know if it’s real or not,” the caller said.

Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, said the officers were not told the caller thought the gun could be fake.

The officer called to the playground outside a city recreation centre saw the pistol sitting on a table or bench, and watched the boy grab it and put it in his waistband, Mr Follmer said.

On Monday, Cleveland’s website was hacked and a YouTube video purporting to be from the hacker collective Anonymous was posted referencing website shutdowns and the shooting.

City spokesman Daniel Ball said the city could not confirm who shut down the site. He said the city was adding extra security measures to prevent a repeat shutdown before restoring the website.

Published: Monday 24th November 2014 by The News Editor

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