Child With Fake Gun Shot By Ohio Officer, Dies From Wounds

By Brett Snider, Esq. on November 25, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A child who was carrying a fake gun died from his wounds on Sunday after being shot by an Ohio police officer on a playground.

Tamir Rice, 12, was identified by the Cuyahoga County medical examiner as the victim of this fatal shooting, which occurred outside of Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday. According to The Associated Press, officers were responding to a 911 call that a boy was pointing a pistol that was "probably fake" and scaring others.

Were the officers within the law when Rice was shot and killed?

Boy Shot During Confrontation With Police

When police arrived on the scene, they found Rice and ordered him to raise his hands. Cleveland's WJW reports that according to police, Rice "did not comply with the officers' orders and reached into his waistband." That was when officers fired, fatally striking Rice in the abdomen.

The Cleveland officers recovered "an airsoft type replica gun resembling a semi-automatic pistol" from Rice. These fake guns shoot small plastic pellets and generally are equipped with a bright orange tip that indicates the toy gun isn't real. Officers report that on Rice's gun, the "orange safety indicator" had been removed.

This case is eerily similar to an incident that occurred late October 2013, in which a 13-year-old boy carrying a toy rifle was shot and killed by California sheriff's deputies. The parents of that child, Andy Lopez, filed a civil rights suit against the deputy and sheriff's department responsible for their son's death.

Were Officers Legally Permitted to Open Fire?

According to the AP, both officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, and the county prosecutor's office is investigating the fatal incident. In the mean time, the Rice family and other may be wondering if officers were within their legal rights to open fire.

Typically, law enforcement may not use lethal force unless:

  • The officer or another person is in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm, or
  • A suspect who committed a dangerous felony is fleeing and presents imminent danger or harm if he or she escapes.

Depending on the investigation into Rice's shooting, Ohio prosecutors may decide not to file charges. Prosecutors in California declined to charge the deputy who shot and killed the teen Lopez earlier this year.

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