In the wake of the grand jury decision not to indict the cops responsible for fatally shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice, prosecutors have released an image that gives insight into what may have led to the controversial decision.
The picture shows two guns – one a real Colt M1911 handgun and the other a replica of the toy gun Rice pulled out of his waistband and aimed at Cleveland, Ohio police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback the day he was shot dead in November 2014.
Rookie cop Loehmann said it was his fear that the airsoft gun Rice was holding was real that caused him to shoot the young boy dead in a park.
The gun in the top left is the replica of the gun that Tamir was playing with that day, and it was missing an orange cap on the tip of the barrel that would have identified it as a toy. Without the cap, prosecutors say it was ‘functionally identical’ to a real handgun.
‘Even to a trained eye, careful side-by-side comparison is required to notice the differences,’ the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s report released Monday reads.
‘During the tense, uncertain and rapidly unfolding moments of an actual encounter, the officer facing a suspect carrying what appears to be a gun often does not know if it is real or fake. Worse, the officer will know that if he guesses wrong, that may be the end of his life,’ the report added.
Prosecutors say that the toy’s packaging warned that removing the orange tip ‘is dangerous, may cause confusion, may be mistaken to be a real firearm by law enforcement officers or others and may be a crime’.
But Tamir was borrowing the gun from a friend and likely did not read the warning.
Still, prosecutors say the at least two people warned him about playing with the toy gun in a public place the day Tamir was shot.
That appears to be what led an onlooker to call police concerned when they saw Rice wielding the toy in a public park.
The caller told dispatchers that the pistol was ‘probably fake’ – a fact not relayed to the officers sent to the scene.
‘The officers, who had no idea that the gun was fake or that Tamir was only 12, thought he was going to pull the gun out at them,’ the report says.
When Loehmann got out of the car, Tamir was shot within 10 seconds.
Tamir died during surgery a day after the shooting, and his family has repeatedly questioned why the case has dragged on.
In the wake of the decision, Tamir’s family expressed their disappointment that Loehmann and his senior partner Garmback would not be at all held accountable for the young boy’s death.
Read more: Daily Mail