Cops Shoot 12-Year-Old Boy Who Was Holding a Toy Gun—At a Playground

Comments

1
I was supportive of the officer initially, based on the reports that when he confronted Tamir, the kid had grabbed for the airsoft gun in his waistband. After all, police officers can't afford to take chances, and when someone grabs for what looks like a gun, you drop him before he drops you.
I'm not so certain after watching the video. Tamir definitely reached for his belt, but I don't know what the hell the cop was doing zooming up in a squad car like that. There's no audio, obviously, but it sure doesn't look like the officer made an attempt to contact him verbally. It really looks more like they were trying to get the jump on him, restrain him, and sort it out once they had the situation under control, and then when he reacted in surprise they shot him. Police officers need to have a certain awareness and avoid escalating potentially dangerous situations when possible.
I'm not going to call it murder, and I think even manslaughter would probably be a stretch, but I'm going to tentatively say it's an example of What Not To Do as a police officer when responding to reports of a kid walking around with a gun.
2
Airsoft guns look way too close to the real thing for kids to have them unsupervised and out in public. Heck, I used to have a plastic dart gun that looked exactly like a 9mm (after you easily removed a 1 inch orange piece of plastic from the barrel). No idea if the police responded correctly, but those toys aren't toys.
3
The cops are officially trolling us at this point.
4
@ 3



Yeah, I'm expecting to see a headline tomorrow reading: "Cops Shoot Comatose Quadriplegic; Say He Was Reaching for His Gun"
5
I was going to watch the the video to be fully informed, but the "news" outlet I tried put a Froot Loops ad up first. Fucking Hell.



The world should not be the way that it is, but it is. Any parent, especially--even though unjustly--a parent of non-white children, should not allow their kids to have realistic toy guns.



I'm not blaming the parents, the cops clearly fucked up, and the dispatch also fucked up [the 911 caller stated that he did not know if it was a real gun, that info was not relayed], but I wish the parents hadn't allowed their child to go outside with a crazy-cop target in his belt.



If I didn't follow best practices and a piece of art I was handling at work was damaged, I would lose my job and possibly be liable for tens of thousands of dollars. These cops should lose their jobs, and be held responsible for the life they took. Their's is a high-stakes job, and they proved tragically inadequate.
6
Actually, police officers need to take a lot more chances than they've been taking, because right now the odds of a white officer shooting an unarmed black kid are far higher than the odds of a white officer being shot BY a black kid (or a black officer shooting an unarmed white kid, for that matter). Cops are way too trigger happy.
7
So what world is your first response of a child playing with a toy gun - mind you he wasn't threatening anybody with it - is to call the cops? Are white folks so scared of the karmic retribution they got coming that they are frightened by the sight of black boys playing? The person who called didn't even think it was real but has been so conditioned to fear black people that calling the cops instead of talking to the kid was their only choice. And some of you ding dongs want to blame the black parents. I can assure you they had no idea the kid had that toy at the park. 12 y.o. boys tend to sneak those things thats why he kept it concealed. I know this because I once was twelve and for a year I had a 12y.o. son. They do that kind of stuff.
8
Don't these cops have access to some kind of nonlethal force? And to some training?

I understand that it can be dangerous to be a cop, and they aren't going to recklessly throw their lives away. Don't expect that, don't want that. But FFS, isn't there some step between doing nothing and shooting to kill?
9
This does seem to me to be, at a minimum, poor police protocol. There surely had to be ways to surround this kid and at least give him a chance to drop his "weapon." It is tough to tell without better video or audio but this does appear to be an example of trigger happy cops and potentially racial bias.



In the wake of the Michael Brown fraud, is it possible to refocus the country's attention on the very real problem of the militarization of our police force and the breakdown of the trust in urban centers between police and society? Unfortunately, for reasons that are totally lost on me, people chose the Michael Brown fiasco as the rallying cry, which was unfortunate because even a charitable view of the evidence in that case would exonerate the cop (and a reasonable view of the evidence would also allow you to conclude Brown's death was justified). But unfortunately, our country is so left-right divided that people follow whatever narrative your favored news outlet spouts and regurgitate empty slogans, e.g. hands up don't shoot.
10
Commenters and Savage seem to be suggesting a number of fallacious issues or arguments.

The cops are supposed to take the callers word for it? If it looks like a real gun, they have to treat it that way, for their protection and that of the public.

Cops have to wait until a real looking weapon is drawn and wait to see if it goes off when pointed at them or anther. That is way too late. There are lots of documented and filmed cases, including this one, http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=92b_13808… , where officers actually score one or more handgun hits on a suspect at close range, and the suspect SUBSEQUENTLY starts or continues to fire hitting the officer. The suspect in this video later dies, but not before shooting the officer, and driving an additional mile down the freeway, with two kids in the back-seat. Fortunately for the kids in the car, the suspect pulled to a controlled stop as he died, rather than jerking the wheel and flipping the car end over end.

That officers can assume that this suspect won't flee and shoot a civilian while fleeing. The video doesn't show us the proximity of other people in the park, where buildings are that might have people in them, etc. Officers are bound by "best practices", state law, and civil standards of due care to contain the threat as quickly as possible. This kid, hypothetically speaking, runs 30 feet to the left, out of frame, enters a building full of kids, and shoots one, because the officers choose to stop their car 50 feet away and call out to the kid from cover, and it is not a matter of what the taxpayers of Cleveland pay out, but how much. It is not a matter of whether the officers will face remedial training for other disciplinary action, but how much.
11
I was ready to hate on the cops, but that 'toy' gun is fucking scary. Who the hell let's their 12 year old have a 'toy' like that? I'm not blaming the victim. I'm blaming the victim's parents.
12
What bothered me most about this was the 911 call when she asked if he was 'Black' or 'White'.



Disgusting
13
#11 neverbeenthere-- You don't know that the parents gave him or even knew he had that "toy" gun. Boys can get stuff like that without their parents realizing it. And then they can hide it, too.



Making and selling toys look like real guns is a huge problem.
14
Even if it is a REAL gun, you pull up a distance away, get out the megaphone and tell the person to put it down and get on the ground. Even for an adult. Fuck



You police apologists have been sensitized to a world where law enforcement is all about executing the death sentence rather than take the slightest chance. This is a different America from 30 years ago. Fuck.


15
Yeah, my jaw dropped when I saw how quickly they killed that child. Surely a more cautious approach was warranted, *especially* if they thought he was a real threat, because he could easily have shot both cops dead if he had had a real gun and been so predisposed.
16
If they pull up at a distance and he flees toward other people and the are injured or killed it's on the PD. Their training is contain the the threat so they can't get to other people. Then, and only then, does a bullhorn come out. Active threat, active measures until the threat is cornered with no means of escape and no potential targets. It is not like on TV.
17
Weird how these white open-carry douches never seem to have this problem. It's almost like somebody gives them the benefit of the doubt.
18
This just makes me sick. I think back to my own childhood and how many very realistic guns I received as presents over the years: dart guns, BB guns, pellet guns, .22's - and nobody gave it a second thought. 40 years ago, I doubt even a black child of similar age would have been treated as a potential threat, but today? The police seem to be so conditioned to the idea that: black male (any age) +/- gun (real or not) = deadly threat, that this is the inevitable, tragic result.
19
If you read this and other news headlines, they make it sound as if a little boy was just standing there innocently with his toy gun and got shot.

But if you read accounts from the eyewitnesses, they stated that the boy was being aggressive and repeatedly pointing the gun at bystanders, and wouldn't put it down even after parents at the playground acted nervous.

So, should he have been shot after all of 2 seconds? No. But is it as cut-and-dried as all of you are making it seem? Also no. But what do we expect from Slog these days.
20
@17, You aren't wrong about your race observation. Black cops and white cops, black citizens and white citizens will always see the black man with the open carry gun as more threatening than a white guy behaving exactly the same way, with the same weapon, in the same position on the hip. Lot's of social science research backs this up. We draw intuitively and instinctively on the amygdala, fight or flight, section of the brain, in a split second, rather than the frontal cortex where we process and analyze things. It is involuntary and that instinctive, involuntary, assessment is drawn from the volume of stereotypes we soak up involuntarily from the pop culture around us.

Prior to Columbine, cops were trained to step back, contain and call the negotiator and SWAT team when encountering an active shooter or potential active shooter. You create time and space where the frontal cortex can be engaged.

Post-Columbine that has changed. Contain and isolate the threat or potential threat if possible, and control and neutralize if you can't. Perhaps we need to re-visit that.

The pendulum swings too far one way, and then too far the other in terms of perception, training and practice.

An open carry guy reaching for the openly carried weapon, without justification, could and should be treated as an aggressor. The law permits it and someone reacting to that and drawing and firing their own weapon would be justified under RCW 9A.16.050. A person carrying concealed and deliberately opening a coat to reveal the weapon could be guilty of 2nd Degree Assault (its a threat of deadly force) and someone facing that could legally retaliate with deadly force. RCW 9A.16.020 and .050, with the relevant case law, are clear on this.

The problem in this case is you have a 12 year-old who is being a) deliberate b) ignorant and immature or c) foolish. He isn't around for us to ask. Under the 1989 Graham v. Connor, the Supreme Court ruled 9-0, with no conservative v. liberal divide that It has to be "objectively reasonable" that it is "a)" and the kid's next act is reaching for his gun. It is actually objectively reasonable that it is a), b), or c), but the as long as a) is objectively reasonable it doesn't have to be the most likely. The fact that it is one of many possible objectively reasonable perceptions and conclusions is good enough.

So the moral of the story is that a burden is imposed on us all not to speak or act in way that is threatening to others. If we are saying or doing something, that given the totality of the facts and circumstances, could be objectively and reasonably construed as a mortal threat to another, AND have the means to carry out the threat, we are giving license to a cop or fellow citizen to take us out. That is an unfair burden to put on a 12-year old, but to do otherwise is to force those around that 12 year-old (or an older person) to bet their life that it is b) or c), and the kid isn't going to draw the weapon, or that the gun is fake, not real.
21
@20 he was 12 years old. Seriously go fuck yourself.
22
@20. You can tell me to do foul things all you want, that doesn't change the state of the law decided unanimously by 9 Supreme Court Justices, liberal to conservative.

It doesn't help the guy who called the cops, the other people in the park, or the cop go home alive because they gambled wrongly on an all to real looking gun.
23
George, to suggest the police could and should have handled the situation differently is not the same as to suggest they should have blithely gambled their lives on whether or not this kid could and would have shot them if given the opportunity.

You yourself pointed out things would have been handled differently in the past, and suggested they might be better handled in the future, which isn't so different a stance from whomever you think has indirectly suggested police should recklessly bet their lives on an assumption of safety. You clearly don't think police should be so irresponsible with their own lives or those of others, what makes you think anyone else here feels that cops should treat their own lives cheaply?
24
I thought this was America! Why didn't that 12 year old have a real gun?
25
Since when do cops assume no risk in taking the job of being a police officer?



It's as if to say that because their job is dangerous they are inherently given a free pass to be assholes and murderers. It reminds me of elementary South Park episodes where Jimbo only has to shout "It's comin right for us" in order to excuse his poaching while hunting Scuzzlebutt (e.g. Sasquatch with TV's Patrick Duffy for a leg).



Being a cop isn't a safe job. You aren't allowed to remove all risk of potential danger simply because you're scared and want a paycheck. If that were the case, we would still be dropping atom bombs instead of going to war with troops. You sign up for the job you need to assumed the risks that come with it: corporeal, legal, or otherwise. You yet paid to assume that risk, just list a convenience store clerk or fireman. You've simply volunteered to exchange your labor to help the community rid itself of undesirable behavior. Anyone who says that doesn't work hasn't been to literally any other modern Western countries.



7-11 clerks aren't allowed to just shoot perceived threats willy-nilly.



What's actually happening is modern day Jim Crow laws, forcing black Americans into the prison industrial complex and removing them from the voting population.
26
Keep America safe! Disarm all cops.
27
@7



You say he wasn't threatening anyone with the gun? You need to watch this...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwYVJ4W7…



My jaw dropped when I saw his behavior between 1:10 and 1:50.



Abject stupidity.



orange safety indicator was removed...

pointing it an another person(loaded or unloaded is immaterial)

clearly no firearms training (spinning it around on his finger like a cowboy)

brandishing it in public



I'm frankly amazed the kid wasn't shot sooner.



Arrrgh! Where were the parents?!?!?! Where were the tazers?!?!?!
28
Yeah, this while thing fucking smells really bad.



Why did the dispatcher consider the fact that he's black relevant but nit the fact that the caller TWICE said it might not be real?



Why did the cops pull up that close like charging cavalry?



I echo the comments above that when did we shift the risk 100% ti the public and 0% to the cops? I agree sharing that risk 50/50, but cops should not he free ti waste anyone because of perceived threats and thus taking away all risk for themselves.



Couldn't they have pulled up 15-20 ft away, and gotten out of their cars using the car as cover? That would still surely put them in a very risk free position relative to the suspect, but at least they'd have time to talk the boy down.



Someone above said "well, if the person runs away and shoots someone, the cops are liable". What a pile of shit. Situations like that either never happen or are so exceedingly rare that their possibility should have no bearing on the cops response. Why would an individual who has shown no desire to shoot someone before the cops come just decide to run away and shoot someone because cops show up? That would make one LEAST likely to shoot someone, not more so.
29
This tragedy reminded of the the time, some 35 years ago, when a couple of my brother's friends thought it would be fun to drive around their college campus and take pot shots at their fellow students with a starter's pistol. Ultimately, they found themselves facing a squad car with a couple of officers crouched behind its open doors, guns drawn, suggesting (via loudspeaker) that they get out of the car with their hands in the air. It was broad daylight, the guys with the starter's pistol were white, it was on a Big Ten college campus, and it was clearly a different era in so many ways. However, the Cleveland video seems to portray a shoot first mentality that, had some of the other variables been different 35 years ago, likely would have resulted in the car and passengers getting filled with lead. Not sure if the Cleveland video was released in an attempt to get out in front of public opinion. However, based solely on what it shows, I don't see how anyone can claim that it represents acceptable police behavior. The fact that the toy gun is circled early on in the video seems like an interesting detail to highlight in that it doesn't seem likely that the officers would have had access to it prior to their appearance. Anyone else wonder what the audio from 911 and dispatch sound like?
30
@ 20 - seems to me that ignorant, immature and foolish are part of the definition of "12 years old". The penalty for a kid being foolish should not be the death penalty, and when that death comes at the hands of those who are sworn to protect him - yes, even though he's a black kid the cops are still sworn to protect him - outrage is the correct response for all citizens.
31
@1, @28: Why would the cops pull up so close? The easiest solution to troublesome people on the street is to escalate to the point that you can justify killing them. If the threat-human is less than 21 feet away, police training tells them that their lives are in danger and thus they can use deadly force. Why stop at a safe distance when you can just move on in and neutralize the threat?
32
First: the photos show the kid was CLEARLY trying to scare people with what appeared to be a real gun.

The gun had the Orange tip removed, so that it looked real.

The kid had a black hoodie up, no way to tell age.

The video shows the kid reaching for "the gun." In his waistband when told 2x show your hands..

Would you wait to see if it was real?

Tragic. But like Michael Brown -- really stupid choices have real consequences.

Don't carry a gun, point it at people, and fail to do what you're told when told.

This is not hard people.
33
@27, his behavior was out of line, but he's a kid. And the police - if the video is anything to go by - shot him fucking immediately after they pulled up just a few feet away from him. At that moment he wasn't pointing it at anyone; it doesn't look like there was anyone around. No shots had been fired. In that situation, you ask someone to put the gun down and give them an opportunity to do so. The kid's behavior was provocative, but they were still way out of line. A lot of blame falls on the dispatcher, who at a minimum should be fired for neglecting to tell the officers that the person who called it in thought the gun might very well be a toy, but the cops still overreacted.
34
Kind of weird how libertarians turn into simpering authoritarians when the police are killing unarmed children. Mandatory health insurance is tyranny but these over-militarized, trigger-happy cops are just doing their jobs, bro.
35
@32 - Would I wait? Probably not, but I'm not a fucking cop. You're making a shitton of assumptions here - "his hoodie is up so they can't tell he's of age -they should just shoot him!"

Your idea of what the police should do is highly disturbing, but then again you keep showing over and over in your comments that you're a horrible person with little to no compassion for your fellow man.
36
@34 - Because they know it won't be them gunned down, even if they're showing off their not-just-realistic-looking-but-actually-real guns at Starbucks. It must be nice having that privilege.
37
@32 First of all he was shit literally within 2 seconds of screeching to a halt in front of him. I doubt the kid had any thoughts other then "wtf?"



It was completely unnecessary when stopping 20 ft and using the car as cover would have been just as safe for the cops but given the situation time to unfold properly.



You know they would never fly up on a white kid like that.



And yes the dispatcher holds a ton of blame. The caller said that the gun looked fake AND he is prob a minor, neither thing that were told to the cops but are clearly materiel facts. Meanwhile, she went OUT of her way to ask of the per was black and DID relay that.



What a fucking joke.



And can you imagine being the guy that called the cops? Sounds like he was expecting the cops to come by, give the kid a tongue lashing, and bring him home to his mother.



Instead without any investigation or attempt to deescalate the situation, ride up lIke it's the Battle of the Bulge and waste the startled kid.
38
Dumb move kid.



Ohio is open carry, so it's fine to intimidate people with real guns just not fake guns. Funny though it appears to be a cold snowy day there and I don't see anyone else .



Not only that, his behavior encouraged them to drive directly across the grass to get within feet of him, so having made them put themselves in danger at that point and no doubt getting their boots wet they had to shoot him.



The kid then decided to be black too.



Just bad decisions on his part!



Lets escalate this and in the future let the cops have drones with hellfire missiles. They will not even need to leave the precinct.
39
@35 Pridge

No you're not a cop. You're a pussy who has tons of advice to give to people with more balls, more talent, more skill, more sense and more hard-earned money. Look at the long list of your own posts and you'll find a fool that has nothing but excuses and complaints for everyone and everything. Like a grinder monkey at the leg of the grievance machine. Whatever you need to rationalize your own sorry state. Boo hoo.
40
Something everyone here seems to have missed is that the police pulled up between an "armed" suspect--who was witnessed repeatedly pointing a very realistic gun at others--and a youth center across the street. The witness who had sat near by before being frightened off could not tell the age of the person nor if the gun was real or not.







Knowing that there was a youth center within shooting range, and that neither age nor gun status could be confirmed by someone right there--all that makes a difference in how the police responded
41
@39 - I lol'd.
42
Right there with you Pridge @41. Especially the "hard-earned money" part, classic asshattery.
43
@41, I'm still LOLing over the guy who keeps warning of an armed revolt against an overreaching government telling people they need to "do what you're told when told" or die at the hands of the law.
44
@42 - By "hard earned" I think he really means "inherited" considering the crowd he worships.

@43 - He's a sycophant with dreams of grandeur; wanting to ensure that the "little people" stay that way on behalf of his masters in the hopes they'll reward him with a pat on the head or two.
45
Not sure which facets of prior history, government tendencies, demographics, economics, social science, or consumer behavior would lead you to think we're not on that course. Or why the U.S. would be somehow immune to the very forces against autocratic states. It is what defines the Middle East today. Europe could kickoff with a wobble in the German banks. (You think Spain will endure 25% unemployment forever?)
The very militarized police that the Left (and libertarians) complain about, are organs of the federal centralization of powers that The Left have been seeking. Your government lies to you, spies on you, seeks to divide you, ignores you, jails you, steals from you... While a large share of the population is arming itself to the teeth. And you don't think you've got a problem?
47
@45, It's impossible to take you seriously.
48
@45 - k.
49
this kid is walking alongside a pedestrian and directly pointing the gun at them. The person reporting this behavior to police says "it's freaking people out" and he's not sure if it's a real gun. The "toy" has the visuals of a toy gun removed from it to make it look more like a real gun. If you go for your toy gun that looks real when the police show up, expect to get shot, no matter what race or age you are.