An Ohio family said in a recent statement that the fatal shooting of their 12-year-old son at the hands of a Cleveland police officer could have been avoided and they think the officer decided too quickly to use deadly force.
Tamir Rice was fatally shot Saturday afternoon by a Cleveland police officer who believed the young boy was holding a gun. The weapon turned out to be an Airsoft gun that fires small paint pellets.
Cleveland.com reports Rice’s family issued the statement Wednesday, shortly after police released a surveillance video of the incident.
"We have seen the video that shows our son, Tamir, being shot and killed by a City of Cleveland police officer,” the statement reads. “It is our belief that this situation could have been avoided and that Tamir should still be here with us.”
Rookie officer Timothy Loehmann, 26, fired the fatal shot. He and his partner, Frank Garmback, who was driving the patrol car, responded to an emergency call from a man in the park who complained that the young boy was waving the toy gun around and pointing it at people.
The caller told the 911 dispatcher the gun was “probably fake, but you know what, he’s scaring the s**t out of people.” The caller later said, “I don’t know if it’s real or not,” and described Rice as “probably a juvenile.”
According to The Washington Post, the information relayed to the officers was that there was a young black male with a gun in a park. No mention of the gun possibly being fake was made to the officers.
The video of the incident shows Rice being shot just seconds after the patrol car pulls into view.
“The video shows one thing distinctly: the police officers reacted quickly,” the statement from Rice’s family says. “It is our hope that the City of Cleveland Division of Police and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office thoroughly examine the events …”
Loehmann and 46-year-old Garmback have been placed on administrative leave. It will be up to a grand jury if either of the two men will be charged in the shooting death, according to NBC News.
The release of the video came just days after Cleveland witnessed protests in the wake of the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri not to indict officer Darren Willson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.
Rice’s family called for calm in Cleveland as the investigation in their son’s shooting death proceeds.
The Cleveland chapter of the NAACP echoed their sentiments.
“While we understand the feelings of anger, distrust, hyper vigilance, and helplessness that stem from the constant imposition of violence by officers who are sworn to protect and serve - we are asking the community to remain calm while we await a thorough and transparent review of the evidence and facts to ensure justice is served,” the organization said in a separate statement.