Cleveland officials said on Monday they have released a video recording of the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy by police to representatives of the boy’s family, and will eventually release it to the public.
Tamir E. Rice was shot by police on Saturday after he brandished a pellet gun at a Cleveland recreation center. He died of his injuries on Sunday.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said at a news conference that the Rice family had been invited to see the video, but had declined. He said family representatives have had a chance to view it, and will discuss it with the family.
Cleveland Deputy Police Chief Ed Tumba said the video was “very clear on what took place.”
Police had responded to a report of someone with a pistol who was scaring people. Officers told the boy to raise his hands, but Rice reached to his waistband for the gun, and was shot, police said.
The officer who shot the boy was about ten feet away from him, police said. The officer is on administrative leave.
Authorities said the gun held by Rice was an Airsoft-type replica gun, which typically shoots plastic pellets, and resembles a semi-automatic pistol. Williams said it was indistinguishable from a real firearm.
Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, said the officer who shot Rice was on the job for about a year, and didn’t know the 911 caller had told a dispatcher the gun was “probably fake.”
“Every officer you talk to would have done the same thing,” Follmer said, who saw the video.
The shooting comes as the country awaits a Missouri grand jury’s decision over whether to indict a Ferguson police officer for the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager. That case has led to multiple protests and a renewed focus on police interactions with African Americans.
Both Rice and Brown were African American.
Mayor Frank Jackson of Cleveland told reporters the ongoing Ferguson case didn’t matter in the Rice case.
“What matters to me is that it happened in Cleveland and it happened to a child,” Jackson said.
Williams said police were looking at video and forensics evidence, and conducting interviews with possible witnesses.
“Kids need to know that guns aren’t toys and we shouldn’t provide them to our kids, plain and simple,” Williams said.
An Ohio grand jury last September decided not to press charges against two police officers who fatally shot a man while he held a pellet gun at a Dayton-area Walmart.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Bernadette Baum)