12-year-old Tamir Rice was in possession of a toy gun (an “airsoft” replica toy gun, which shoots pellets in a similar way that a BB gun does) at Cudell Recreation Center when Cleveland police shot and killed him after responding to a 911 call. The police were called to the playground after receiving a complaint that a kid was waving a gun around. “He’s sitting on the swing and keeps pulling it in and out of his pants, and pointing it at people. He’s probably a juvenile, you know,” said the 911 caller. Once the police arrived, they claimed that Rice refused to put his hands up and reached in his waistband for what appeared to be a gun. That’s when the responding officers shot him twice in the torso. Rice died from his wounds on Sunday morning.
This story sounds strangely familiar. I remember when 45-year-old White man Lance Tamayo went to a playground and pulled out a gun, waving it at the women, men and children. Not only is Tamayo still alive, but police attempted to negotiate with him for an hour before finally shooting him in the stomach. Even when Tamayo was on the ground, after having been shot, he still reached for his gun. This is called failing to comply. Witnesses claim that Michael Brown was complying with his hands up when he was shot dead by officer Darren Wilson. It’s been reported that the personnel were able to subdue Tamayo with non-lethal rounds and take him into custody.
The responding authorities negotiated with Tamayo, asking him to move away from the gun. A negotiation, really? Mike Brown didn’t get that courtesy. Ezell Ford didn’t get to a chance to explain anything. Kajieme Powell lunged at the police with a knife and was shot down. The officers responsible in responding to Powell claimed that they had to use “lethal force.” I guess that same protocol wasn’t necessary for Tamayo, who was pointing his gun at the cops. And of course lethal force was necessary for Rice.
NBC local news is reporting “The officer had no clue he is a 12-year-old,” said Jeff Fullmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association. “He had no clue it was a toy gun, he was kind of shocked. He was concentrating more on the hands than on the age. It’s not go shoot a 12-year-old with a good fake gun. It’s not that scenario at all.” Cleveland police said in a statement that an orange marking designed to make the toys distinguishable from real firearms had been removed. Of course this detail needed to be included so there’s more justification surrounding the murder.
Fullmer continues, “This is a compassionate officer.” A compassionate officer? A compassionate officer wouldn’t have shot a child to kill. Friends and family members want to know why the responding officers didn’t taser or shoot Tamir in the legs and so do we!
We live in a world where a Black man can be accused of burglarizing his own home and subsequently pepper-sprayed. We live in a world where an unarmed Black teen is shot and killed on the street he grew up on, even when he was complying with police. We live in a world where a Black boy could be shot after purchasing a BB gun at Walmart. This is the same world where Tamir Rice died because the police would rather shoot him down like a dog than question why he was waving the gun around in the first place. Both officers who responded to the 911 call are on administrative leave.
Do we really need more tangible proof that Black men are more likely to be shot and killed by the police than White men? The double standard Black people face when dealing with the people who vow to protect and serve us is disparaging. How many more seemingly legalized murders do we need witness to know that our lives don’t matter.
This story breaks our hearts. What do you think about Tamir Rice dying at the hands of police? Sound off in the comments below.