Union: Cleveland police not told by dispatcher boy’s gun might be fake

Associated Press


A dispatcher didn’t tell officers involved in the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy last month that the gun might not be real or that the person might be a child, a Cleveland police union official said Friday.

Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president Jeff Follmer told The Associated Press in an interview that officers had no way of knowing that Tamir Rice was carrying an airsoft gun, which shoots nonlethal plastic pellets, when a rookie cop shot him in the abdomen Nov. 22. Follmer added that the dispatcher followed protocol when sending the officers on what police call a “gun run.”

Surveillance video released by police shows Tamir being shot within two seconds of the patrol car stopping near him. In that time, Officer Timothy Loehmann told the boy to put his hands up, but he didn’t, according to police brass and Follmer. Tamir had nearly pulled the gun out of his waistband when Loehmann shot him, Follmer said.

The man who had called 911 told dispatchers someone was pointing a pistol that was “probably fake” and scaring everyone. The caller also said the person was probably a child.

An autopsy released Friday said Tamir was shot once in the abdomen and the bullet damaged a major vein and his intestines, the Cuyahoga County medical examiner concluded in labeling the death a homicide.

A grand jury will consider whether criminal charges are merited.

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