On Saturday afternoon, Cleveland police shot and killed a 12-year-old boy in a playground after mistaking his "airsoft" toy gun as a real weapon, an official at the MetroHealth Medical Center confirmed to BuzzFeed News.
The boy has been identified by the Cuyahoga County medical examiner as Tamir E. Rice, of Cleveland. Rice was shot in the stomach and torso after police responded to reports that a young black boy was waving a gun in the playground of a recreation center.
Police said that officers opened fire at the boy after they asked him to put up his hands and he instead reached for the BB gun. The family's attorney, Timothy Kucharski, confirmed that Rice went with friends to the park on Saturday but had no further details about the shooting.
Initially wounded, Rice went into surgery on Saturday night, the police said in a statement. His condition deteriorated overnight, and he died on Sunday morning in MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.
Rice's mother lives across the street from the recreation center playground where her son was shot. She says she "doesn't understand" why her son died, CBS News reported.
The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave.
"The preliminary information reveals that witnesses reported that a male was in the playground area of the center, waiving [sic] a gun and pointing it at people," police said.
"Upon arrival on scene, officers located the suspect and advised him to raise his hands. 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 "airsoft" replica toy gun shoots pellets in a similar fashion to a BB gun. Cleveland police reported that an orange indicator meant to distinguish the toys from real guns had been removed.
Police said the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office is opening an investigation into the shooting.
This is the gun that Rice carried.
The 911 caller says the gun is "probably fake, but it's scaring the shit out of me." The Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president, Jeff Follmer, said that the officers who shot Rice were not informed the 911 caller suspected the gun was fake.
The 911 caller also says that the boy was black and was sitting on a swing playing with the gun.
In a press conference on Monday morning, the Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said that the gun Rice had was "indistinguishable" from a real gun.
The Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said that police had not yet reviewed the 911 tape. "That's on my list of things to do," he said.
In the press conference, Deputy Tomba also confirmed that the officer who shot Rice was less than 10 feet away when he opened fire.
There is video evidence of the shooting, the police confirmed. Tomba said that the video is not yet being released publicly, but that it has been presented to the Rice family's legal team. The Police Chief said that the video corroborates the officer's initial description of the shooting, but that they had not yet taken "official statements" from the officers who shot Rice.
He described the event as tragic, and said that the Cleveland police department felt "distraught."
Here is the original statement released by the police on Sunday:
The Cleveland Division of Police Use of Deadly Force Investigation Team is currently investigating an officer involved shooting which occurred on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at approximately 330pm at Cudell Recreation Center, 1910 West Boulevard.
Officers responded to a radio assignment outside of the recreation center for a male with a gun. The Preliminary information reveals that witnesses reported that a male was in the playground area of the center, waiving a gun and pointing it at people. Upon arrival on scene, officers located the suspect and advised him to raise his hands. 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.
EMS was contacted and the suspect was transported to MetroHealth Medical Center for treatment. At the time of this release, the suspect is in surgery.
Further information reveals that the weapon which the 12 year old suspect was in possession of is an "airsoft" type replica gun resembling a semi-automatic pistol, with the orange safety indicator removed. Local Media was able to obtain images of the weapon on scene of the press briefing.
One officer was transported to Fairview Hospital for treatment of an injury to his ankle.
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office was on scene for this investigation. Both officers will be placed on administrative leave as is protocol in officer involved shooting incidents.
THIS MATTER WILL BE FURTHER INVESTIGATED.
This story has been updated to reflect that the boy has been identified as Tamir Rice.
The statement given by the Cleveland police said that the officers instructed Rice to raise his hands, not drop his weapon.