The Cleveland police officer who fatally shot unarmed 12-year-old Tamir E. Rice fired from a distance of fewer than 10 feet, police confirmed in a news conference Monday. They also said there's a video recording of the events leading up to, during and after the shooting, which took place in an Ohio park after Tamir pulled out a BB gun.
The officer, whose name has not yet been released, was placed on administrative leave pending further investigation, said Police Chief Calvin Williams. He had been on the force for a year, Cleveland.com reported, and has not been formally interviewed about the incident.
Tamir had no juvenile criminal record, Cleveland.com also reported.
A 911 caller told a dispatcher Saturday that Tamir was pulling a gun -- "probably fake" -- from his waistband and pointing it at passers-by. Two officers arrived and saw the gun on a picnic table before Tamir took it and put it in his waistband. They told Tamir to raise his hands, but the boy lifted his shirt and pulled out the gun, Cleveland.com reported. One of the officers shot him twice, and Tamir died Sunday in the hospital.
Tamir's BB gun did not have on its federally mandated orange cap. It's unclear whether the dispatcher communicated to the responding officers that the caller thought the gun was fake, said Deputy Chief Ed Tomba. The police investigation must be completed within 90 days. At that point, the evidence will be turned over to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, and after that the police will conduct an internal review.
In the meantime, families should explain to their children that weapons should not be played with, Williams said at the conference. "Guns are not toys," he said. "The facsimile weapon in this incident is indistinguishable from a real firearm."
"Whether there was Ferguson out there or not doesn't matter to me," Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said. "What matters to me is that it happened in Cleveland, and it happened to a child."
Police are not the enemy, Williams said at the news conference. They're there to help and should be listened to. "There is no time a Cleveland police officer wants to go out and shoot a kid," Williams said.