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Cops Kill Boy, 12, Carrying 'Airsoft' Toy Gun in Cleveland

Cleveland police said the 12-year-old refused orders to put his hands up and reached for an toy gun that resembled a real firearm at a playground.
Image: Cleveland Police Car
A Cleveland police carSTEFAN HLABSE / AFP-Getty Images

Cleveland police shot and killed a 12-year-old boy who was allegedly carrying an "airsoft" toy gun at a recreation center, police said. Tamir Rice, who was shot in the torso and went into surgery Saturday, died Sunday morning, police said. Two officers were placed on administrative leave.

Police said the officers were responding to a report of a person waving a gun around at a playground at the Cudell Recreation Center about 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Tamir was shot after he allegedly refused to put his hands up and reached in his waistband for what appeared to be a handgun, police said.

The handgun turned out to be an "airsoft" replica toy gun, which shoots pellets in a similar way that a BB gun does. Cleveland police said in a statement that an orange marking designed to make the toys distinguishable from real firearms had been removed.

A man who called 911 told dispatchers before police arrived that the boy was on a swing set and pointing a pistol that was "probably fake" and scaring everyone. "I don't know if it's real or not," the caller said. Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, told The Assciated Press that the officers weren't told the caller thought the gun might be fake.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office and police are investigating the shooting.

The Cuyahoga County medical examiner released Tamir's name Sunday. An attorney for the family, Timothy Kucharski, said he didn't know the details of what led to the shooting, saying he would be conducting a parallel investigation.

"I'm trying not to cry about the situation, but the situation hurts," Tamir's father, Gregory Henderson, told NBC station WKYC of Cleveland.

"Who would've thought he would go so soon?" Henderson asked. "He had his whole life ahead. To be 12 years old — he doesn't know what he's doing. Police, they know what they're doing."


— Hasani Gittens, Phil Helsel and M. Alex Johnson