Cleveland police have released surveillance video that shows a 12-year-old boy walking around with and waving a pellet gun and then being fatally shot by a rookie officer seconds after he arrived on the scene.
The black-and-white video is grainy, and the boy’s movements appear jerky and are hard to decipher at times. But he can been seen pacing on the sidewalk of Cudell Recreation Center, the silhouette of his Airsoft pistol plainly visible at times.
A 911 caller, who was sitting in a nearby gazebo, told police several times that the weapon was probably a fake, but the dispatcher did not relay that information to the responding officers, referring to it only as “a gun,” police tapes show. Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said the officers believed they were on a "gun run."
The caller eventually left, and Tamir sat down in the gazebo before Officers Timothy Loehmann, 26, and Frank Garmback, 46, pulled up in a squad car.
There is no audio but Tomba said Loehmann, who was in the passenger seat and who had been on the force only since March, yelled at the boy three times to show his hands as the car neared the gazebo.
Police circled a frame of the video in red that shows Tamir moving his hand — apparently to signal the moment they say the youth reached for the pellet gun.
Loehmann shot him immediately after leaving his police car, at a distance of about 10 feet, the video shows. Then he ducked behind the car as Garmback, a training officer with eight years on the force, jumped out of his seat.
Police Chief Calvin Williams said Tamir Rice’s family watched the video and advocated its release. “This is a 12-year-old boy. We want people to view this video with that in mind,” he said.
Tomba took pains to say that the release was not meant to say that Tamir or the cops were to blame.
“This is not an effort to exonerate, it’s not an effort to show the public that anybody did anything wrong. This is a tragic event,” Tomba said.
A grand jury will decide whether either officer will be charged in Tamir's death. Police said they are still trying to identify and question a person who crosses path with the youth on the video; his image was blurred in the footage released to the public.