CLEVELAND (Reuters) – A 12-year-old boy who was shot by police after he waved and pointed a pellet gun at a Cleveland city recreation center died on Sunday from his injuries, officials said.
The boy, who has not been identified, was shot in the abdomen by a city officer at a playground on the city’s west side on Saturday, said Timothy Kucharski, an attorney for the boy’s family.
According to the recording of a 911 call, a witness at the Cudell Recreation Center park told the police dispatcher that he saw somebody with a pistol and he was pointing it at people.
The caller told the dispatcher that the gun was “probably fake.” But he said that it was scaring people.
Officers responded and advised the boy to raise his hands, according to a police statement.
“The suspect did not comply with the officers’ orders and reached to his waistband for the gun. Shots were fired and the suspect was struck in the torso,” the statement said.
After a preliminary investigation, authorities said the gun the boy had was an airsoft-type replica gun resembling a semi-automatic pistol.
Airsoft weapons are realistic looking guns used in play combat, and they shoot plastic pellets. Most are made with bright orange tips so that they won’t be confused with real guns. Police said the orange safety indicator was removed from the replica gun the boy was holding.
The boy was taken to MetroHealth Hospital where he underwent surgery Saturday and remained in critical condition until his death early Sunday, Kucharski said. The death was confirmed by hospital spokesman Jonah Rosenblum.
The two officers involved in the incident were placed on administrative leave. One of them was treated at Fairview Hospital for an ankle injury.
The shooting followed another incident that shook the city. On Friday, Cleveland police said four people, including a 41-year-old pregnant woman, were shot and killed at a home on the city’s east side. A 9-year-old girl was shot in the chest and was treated and released from a local hospital.
(Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Frances Kerry)