Tamir Rice Shooting by Cleveland Police Under Investigation

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The police shooting death of a 12-year-old boy with a toy gun in Cleveland has sparked an investigation — and questions over why officers opened fire instead of using a stun gun. Two officers have been placed on administrative leave pending a probe into Saturday's shooting of Tamir Rice.

Police said officers responded to a report of a person waving a gun around at a playground and that Tamir was shot after he allegedly refused to put his hands up and reached in his waistband for what appeared to be a handgun. 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 the boy was on a swing set and pointing a pistol that was "probably fake" and scaring everyone — but officers weren't told the caller thought the gun might not be real, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association told The Associated Press.

Tamir's father, Gregory Henderson, questioned why police chose to open fire instead of use a stun gun on his son. "Why not tase him? You shot him twice, not once, and at the end of the day you all don't shoot for the legs, you shoot for the upper body," Henderson told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Tamir — who was shot in the torso — died of his wounds on Sunday morning.


— Cassandra Vinograd

The Associated Press contributed to this report