CLEVELAND — A 12-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun that looked like a real firearm was ordered three times to show his hands before he was fatally shot by an officer, Cleveland police said Wednesday as they released surveillance video of the confrontation and identified the officers involved.
The compressed video shows the confrontation in stuttered images but lacks sound. Police said it was being released as requested by the family of the boy, Tamir Rice. They also released audio of a 911 call reporting a gun and a dispatcher directing officers to the scene.
“This is not an effort to exonerate. It’s not an effort to show the public that anybody did anything wrong,” Deputy Chief Edward Tomba said. “This is an obvious tragic event where a young member of our community lost their life. We’ve got two officers that were out there protecting the public that just had to, you know, do something that nobody wants to do.”
Tomba refused to comment on what the officers said in their statements, including whether Tamir made any comments to them.
Police identified the responding officers as 26-year-old Timothy Loehman, who was appointed to the force this year and was identified as the officer who fired on Tamir, and 46-year-old Frank Garmback, who’s been with the department since 2008.
Police say Tamir was told to raise his hands three times, then reached into his waistband for what appeared to be a firearm. Police later determined it was an airsoft gun — which shoots small plastic pellets — that did not have an orange safety indicator at the end of the barrel.
The boy was shot Saturday as officers responded to a call about someone with a gun at a Cleveland playground. He died at a hospital the next day.
The video of the shooting was to be made available to media later.
The shooting has led to an investigation of the officer’s use of force and protests referencing this and other police-involved shootings.
The officers involved have been interviewed, and police have obtained statements from several other people, Tomba said. He said police are monitoring social media for any indications of other potential witnesses and are pleading for people to come forward if they have information related to the case, even if it is just a tidbit.