Official identifies 12-year-old with air gun killed in Cleveland police shooting

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
“Airsoft gun” found on the juvenile involved in Saturday’s officer-involved shooting (Photo Credit: Fox 8)

“Airsoft gun” found on the juvenile involved in Saturday’s officer-involved shooting (Photo Credit: Fox 8)

By Michael Pearson and Ronni Berke


(CNN) — A Cleveland police officer responding to a call about a person with a gun fatally wounded a 12-year-old boy brandishing what turned out to be an air gun that looked very much like a real firearm, police said early Sunday.

FOX 13 News sister station FOX 8 in Cleveland reports the medical examiner has identified the teen as 12-year-old Tamir E. Rice. Click here for local coverage of this story from FOX 8.

The shooting Saturday afternoon came as the nation nervously awaited a grand jury decision on whether to charge the police officer who killed African-American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August.

The attorney for the family of the Cleveland youngster, who also was black, downplayed any possible racial connotations to the shooting.

“This is not a black and white issue. This is a right and wrong issue,” attorney Tim Kucharski said.

Police were summoned to the scene outside a recreation center by a 911 caller who said someone — possibly a juvenile — was pointing a gun at people.

“There’s a guy in there with a pistol, you know, it’s probably fake, but he’s like pointing it at everybody,” the caller said, according to audio provided by CNN affiliate WEWS.

See below for the raw audio courtesy FOX 8.

“He’s sitting on a swing right now, but he’s pulling it in and out of his pants and pointing it at people,” the caller said. “He’s probably a juvenile, you know?”

When the two officers arrived, the boy did not point the weapon at them or otherwise threaten them, Deputy Chief Ed Tomba of the Cleveland Division of Police told reporters early Sunday.

But he did reach for the weapon, Tomba said.

“The officers ordered him to stop and to show his hands and he went into his waistband and pulled out the weapon,” he said.

Tomba showed reporters the weapon — a large, black BB- or pellet-type replica gun resembling a semiautomatic pistol. An orange tip indicating the gun was an air gun had been removed, police said.

It wasn’t clear if officers had been told the weapon was not a firearm, Officer Ali Pillow told CNN on Sunday.

Both officers have been placed on leave, police said.

The 12-year-old died early Sunday at MetroHealth Medical Center following surgery, according to the hospital and the family’s attorney.

People who had gathered around the early-morning media scrum with Tomba hurled angry questions at him, accusing police of unnecessary violence.

“It’s a toy gun and a 12-year-old,” a woman in the crowd yelled as reporters tried to ask questions, according to video provided by WEWS.

While saying a thorough and open investigation was under way, Tomba defended the officers’ actions in what he called a “very, very tragic situation.”

“They were doing their job,” he said.

A memorial has been set up at Cudell Recreation Center after the death of a 12-year-old involved in an officer-involved shooting.

A memorial has been set up at Cudell Recreation Center after the death of a 12-year-old involved in an officer-involved shooting. Photo courtesy FOX 8

Police shootings of African-Americans, particularly young men, have been under rising scrutiny in recent months following the shooting of Brown by a white officer following a brief confrontation in Ferguson.

A grand jury is expected to soon make a decision whether Officer Darren Wilson should face criminal charges in that incident, which resulted in widespread protests over police violence against African-Americans.

™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


      • bob

        Posting in ALL CAPS does not make you smarter.

        12 year olds have murdered people with guns. And how stupid would a 12 year old have to be to not realize that his life is in danger with cops pointing real guns at him?

        Personally, I have my doubts about the cop’s story. Any 12 year old who has ever seen television knows that you don’t reach for a gun, real or otherwise, when the cops have you in their sights are are yelling at you to put up your hands. Let’s hope they had a camera going and recording the incident. Body cams are cheap enough these days that there is no justification for a cop to not be wearing one at all times.

      • BOB

        The Utah Pride Center has opened a new counseling and wellness clinic for people like yourself who are trying to cope with their anger issues. They may even help you deal with your “crusade to legalize man-boy love” issues. :)

  • Donna

    Ohio is either an open carry state or it is not. It does not matter if the gun was a toy. Even if it was real, this child according to the situation before any facts were obtained, he had every right under Ohio law to have the gun in his waist band. The 911 caller gave all the accurate information. She told them that it was a child and that the gun as probably fake. The cops did not know his age, but even if they though he was too young to legally open carry then that is more of a reason for them to exercise restraint. If cops are that afraid of citizens who carry weapons in the open, they should quit or the state should repeal the law. It seems that the only ones paying for this law with their lives are Black boys.

    In the past, when children killed other children in school shooting, the bodies lay on the floor before the police arrived. If this child was intent on harm, he would have acted before the police arrived. The fact that no one was harmed indicates that it was a toy.

    It appears that Ohio has two different standards for applying the open carry law. Or it appears that only Whites can only carry. In three months it is clear that it is “open season on Blacks who have even a fake gun in their possession.” This is 100% about race and the perception of cops and others that no matter how young, Black boys are a threat.
    This baby was not 300 pounds. He didn’t rob anyone. He didn’t jaywalk. He played with a toy in a park and now he is dead.

    This is a perfect example of White privilege. It appears that only White boys can be boys and play with toy guns and it appears that the only Whites have the right to open carry.

    This cop was wrong. Is he guilty of a crime? Probably not. But the baby is still dead and his only crime is that he was a child and acted like a child. A 12 year old baby us dead.

    • bob

      What are you smoking, and where can I get some? NO 12 year old, in any state, has a right to carry a pistol in public. Concealed or otherwise.

      But good job trying to turn this into a racial issue. Typical liberal. When you lack an intelligent argument you can always play the race card.

    • miles (dave)

      donna too many of your comments are totally asinine the following is the correction to all of the horrible things you said along with all the other great things others have said to you to encourage you to make a coarse correction to your world view.

      the caller didnt know if the gun was fake or not so why would the cops know any better, anyone can kill anyone with a gun yes even a child, its not about fearing citizens carrying guns its about a legitimate concern that the child may harm himself or someone else, the child did not need to be on a mass killing spree to still be a danger with a gun, also not every gun kills people so toy or not all real guns do not kill people fact most of the guns ever made have never killed anyone, its not about race its about a child who citizens had a good reason to believe was way too young and had a real gun (they would not have called the police if they didnt believe it had a high likelihood of being real), this child didnt have to be a certain weight or rob anyone to be a real hazard, i have found… now that i think about it i cant think of a racist person i have ever known that didnt talk a lot about race. and the least racists people i have ever met just dont care about race or racism. in other words check your self for racism your showing heavy signs for being very racist i hope im wrong and your not, but with these horrible things your said your raising major red flags.

    • swoodbu3

      WAKE- I’m sure if this was your child you would say “evolution at work” too eh? Way to go, buddy. He’s 12. Its a toy gun. If ANYTHING, the police (knowing he was a CHILD) should NOT have used deadly force… why not shoot him in the leg if they REALLY thought their lives were in danger? Seems we are hearing of a LOT MORE police using unwarranted deadly force. Hooray for America… the policed state.

      • AnotherBob

        If this was my son SWOODBU3 he’d have been taught to respect firearms, and that you never point them at anything you don’t intend to shoot. Your attitude reminds me of the animals burning down Ferguson, MO.

  • tuk

    My heart is crying for that little kid who lost his life but Anybody could see the Fake gun look like an real one and he was keep pointing to every one passing through. In that spot / situation how officer could gone through just to control the whole situation, he probably was worried about many others life including his own. He probably going through lots of pain too for this incident/loss of life of the little one. Its just a accident. I hope we all learnt ( specially parents of children and police officers ) from this incident and praying nothing severe should happened to the officers.

  • bob

    We need two types of cops: Armed cops, to respond to calls from conservatives. And unarmed cops, to respond to calls from liberals.

  • Clinton H Davis

    The details of this incident need to be clarified and or adjusted. The term “air gun” is not one I’ve ever heard before.

    If this was a “BB gun” or “Pellet gun” then it is indeed a “real gun” and never had any such orange tip on the barrel.

    If this was an “airsoft gun” that shoots plastic BBs, then yes it would have had an orange tip on the barrel.

    BB guns and pellet guns that are made to look like high powered firearms have been sold in this country for as long as I can remember (at least the late ’70s). They should be treated by the user no differently than any other real gun where gun safety and proper use are concerned.

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.