Thursday, 27 November 2014

Cleveland cops shot boy, 12, just 2 seconds after arrival............

WASHINGTON: The conflagration over the Ferguson shooting involving a white police office who gunned down a black teenager began to cool down over the Thanksgiving holiday but American cops continued to add to their trigger-happy reputation with yet another controversial kill: a black kid was shot dead last Saturday in Cleveland by police who responded to a 911 call from a bystander who thought he saw the boy waving a gun around in a park. It turned out to be a toy gun. The boy, Tamir Rice, was 12 years old. The boy was shot dead within two seconds of the police patrol car arriving on the scene.

In a 911 call and a video released by the police at the request of the boy's family, the caller — whose identity was not released — phones in to say that "a guy" in a park, "probably a juvenile", is pointing a pistol at people and scaring them. The caller twice says that the gun is "probably fake", but the kid is pointing it at passers-by and "scaring the shit" out of them.

Video footage shows the boy waving a gun, which looks very real, at someone walking past him in the park. The orange tip on the gun that it is meant to indicate it is not a real firearm has been removed. But the person the weapon is pointed at doesn't appear to panic or run, suggesting he or she recognized the gun was a fake.

Meanwhile, a dispatcher relays the caller's message to patrol cars without once mentioning the gun may be a fake, merely reporting an armed black male in a park. Two police officers, Timothy Loehmann, 26, and Frank Garmback, 46, arrive on the scene in their car. Loehmann jumps out of the passenger side and orders the boy, who is now seated in a gazebo in the park, to hold his hands up. The boy reaches in his waistband for the gun. The officer fires two shots, fatally hitting Rice in his torso.

Demonstrators march to protest the shooting of Tamir Rice at Cudell Park in Cleveland (AP Photo)

The officers, who were not identified by race or colour, have been placed on administrative leave pending an inquiry by a grand jury. Cleveland's demographic (about 50% black) is similar to that of St Louis, near where Michael Brown's shooting lead to racial tensions across the country.

What is striking about the Cleveland shooting was not only the speed with which the police officers began shooting , but also their subsequent misidentification of the black kid's age. One of the officers, radioing to dispatch, reports that he is a "black male, maybe 20." The police said the officer yelled at Tamir three times to show his hands, but the boy instead reached to his waistband for the object, which turned out to be a fake gun.

Demonstrators march to protest the shooting of Tamir Rice at Cudell Park in Cleveland. (AP Photo)

Meanwhile, the streets of Ferguson started to calm down after two days of nationwide protests. Just a few dozen protesters and clergy braved rain and light snow late on Wednesday to protest outside the police department in the St Louis suburb, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed on August 9. One or two taunted and swore at the 50 National Guard troops in riot gear who stood on duty at the police department. Witnesses said police took one person into custody. Protesters later marched from the police department past city hall, briefly blocking traffic. They dispersed peacefully as police in riot gear turned up.