St. Louis Police Apologize for Toy Gun Parental Advisory

The shooting and killing of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old Airsoft-wielding boy shot by a Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann seconds after he arrived on the scene, did not go unnoticed in St. Louis. Someone at the St. Louis County Police Fenton precinct Facebooked parental advice on faux firearms for friends and families whose children might play with toy guns. Here’s the text, since disappeared down the memory hole (paragraph breaks added) . . .

On November 22nd 2014, a Cleveland Police Officer shot 12 year old Tamir Rice who had his hand on an Airsoft pistol. The Airsoft pistol had the orange warning tip removed. I do not know all the details of the story; I encourage you to research reliable resources and educated yourself about the incident. This article is not about this a boy losing his life, whether this was a justified shooting or, whether the cops acted too fast. This is about the Fenton Precinct making residents aware of a “hot” topic and learning from this incident so Fenton never loses a child’s life.

If you or your children have an Airsoft or pellet gun please sit them down and talk to them about this tragedy. Your children should have rules for “toy” guns that mirror the rules of a real weapon. Pellet guns and Airsoft guns should not be allowed to be played with throughout the neighborhood, common grounds, or used to threaten or intimidate people.

Pellet guns have no orange warning tip because they are considered weapons; Airsoft guns do have orange tip. Please inspect your child’s Airsoft gun to make sure the orange tip has not been altered or removed. These guns are very realistic.

Pellet gun laws are the same as any weapon in the City of Fenton. Children cannot carry a weapon and they cannot shoot this weapon within the city limits. Airsoft guns are considered toys, but city ordinance prohibits the “shooting of any projectile within the city limits”. Warn them that these “toys” do look like real guns and could result in the police getting called on them. The police may get called to respond to “a child with a gun”, “maybe a toy gun”, it is important to know how officers are trained to respond.

If the type of gun is in question by the witness, the Police will respond as though it is a real gun until it can be confirmed one way or the other. Remember if an Airsoft pistol is tucked in your pants like a holster then obviously the orange tip is no longer visible. The police will respond lights and sirens and come to a screeching halt in the area where your child is playing with the gun. Here are some tips to help your child respond appropriately.

Do not run away. They need to no longer have the gun in their hands, throw it away from them. They need to comply with officers instructions. They may be ordered to lie down on the ground. Clear communication between your child and the police is essential. Police need to know that it is a toy gun; I do hope I am explaining a scenario that will never happen in our area.

So again, “kids will be kids”, and your children will continue playing war in the common grounds. Share this with your children; tell this story to families that might need this information, and encourage your kids to talk to classmates about this. Working together we will keep our community a safe place.

That didn’t go down well with the general public. So Chief John Belmar ordered the advice deep-sixed and issued the following apology [via Facebook]:

“On Thursday, December 4, 2014, an officer assigned to the St. Louis County City of Fenton Precinct made a post on the precinct Facebook site that spoke about the death of 12 year-old, Tamir Rice of Cleveland, Ohio. The intention of the post was to inform citizens about the potential danger of airsoft or pellet guns resembling real guns. However, the post was a misguided communication strategy and was offensive to many people.

As Chief of Police, I apologize to Tamir’s family and anyone who was offended by the post. While the post did not originate from the Chief’s Office and I was unaware of its presence prior to its release, I realize the message was insensitive to Tamir’s family and the sorrow they are currently experiencing.

The post conveyed the message that my officers respond to calls involving a child with a gun with indiscretion and little regard for life. I want to emphasize that my officers respond to calls with discernment, and have the highest regard for human life. We train officers to take all facts and circumstances into consideration when making decisions about using force.

The Facebook post has been removed and because of this incident, the social media policy has been altered in order to prevent future occurrences. I know social media is an effective way to provide the public with information, and I will make every effort to ensure that we do it in a responsible manner. Our continued thoughts and prayers go out to Tamir’s family in this trying time.”

[h/t Pascal]

comments

  1. avatar Scrubula says:

    Good advice? I think so.

    1. avatar notalima says:

      It is a pattern.

      (1) Put out the first message that has a totalitarian note to it. If public accepts. Move on. Victory to the state in infringing on your rights with no blood shed.

      (2) If public objects (enough) to #1, blame it on someone else (al la Hickenlooper) then try again with a new totalitarian message at a later date to see if the public has ‘dumbed down’ enough to accept more infringements on their rights.

      1. avatar Scott P says:

        Truth

        Alexandria, VA is pulling this same crap with police officers going door to door trying to scare businesses into discriminating against open carriers giving out falsehoods masquerading as law because the Democrats there are scared of the mean people openly carrying guns to protect themselves.

        VCDL is on the case.

      2. avatar John in Ohio says:

        Yep. Same old game.

  2. avatar RDSmith says:

    They’re doing more of a disservice by removing it than by putting it up in the first place.

    1. avatar Tominator says:

      I think the advice given by the Fenton PD was spot on!

      …I might add that if an officer get’s a call…”Man/kid with a gun”….and the person puts their hand on that gun after being ordered to stop, then expect to get shot! The officer should not need to wait to see if it’s a BB or 119G SJHP that’s hit’s him to make a decision.

      My grandsons do not shoot their BB guns unsupervised and will never have a replica of a real firearm in their possession until they become an adult!

  3. avatar Another Robert says:

    Actually, potentially confusing advice. How does the kid know to “throw away” the gun until the cop gets there? And once the cop is there, how does he “throw it away” without reaching for it if it’s stuck in pants or holster? That aside, I think the Chief’s main problem was that biz about “the officer will respond as if it is a real gun until it is proven otherwise”–which is probably true, but not something the Chief wants to admit.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      I had the same thought: telling a child to throw a gun away is VERY bad advice because it requires (a) drawing the gun and (b) most likely sweeping someone with the barrel in the process of drawing it out and throwing it … both of which are justification for police to shoot someone.

      I believe the best advice in that situation is to basically freeze in place while slowly raising your hands into the air … then slowly kneel down with your hands in the air and wait for police to approach you and disarm you.

      I believe that the officer who posted that bit on Facebook had good intentions. However, I think some of it was bad advice.

  4. avatar Don says:

    Did they drive up on the grass and shoot the kid before they even got out of their car??

    1. avatar B says:

      I’m pretty sure the door got opened first, but the cop may have fired before getting completely out. The only thing threatening was the car pulling up on the grass (with a road right freaking there) 2 feet away from a potential armed suspect then immediately shooting. This was murder. Guy shoots, falls down, then scrambles behind the car.

      1. avatar Brooklyn in da house says:

        I agree. I dont know what SOP is but im sure they could have stopped in the street, got on the loud speaker and told him to drop the weapon. There is no audio in the video but it shows that kid dropping the second that car stopped.

        1. avatar Big B says:

          I’m not defending the actions of the officer who shot the kid but that is not a street, it is a parking lot that is not accessible from the street the police came from. See those posts that are there to keep errant cars from leaving the parking lot and entering the pedestrian area, they prevented the police from using the parking lot along with a chain link fence used to enclose a baseball diamond that is immediately to the right of view. You can search 1910 West Blvd. Cleveland on Google Earth to look for yourself. It’s southeast of the large building. They could have stopped a little earlier I suppose but that is assuming they made visual contact earlier.
          Again, I’m not saying the officer did the right thing only that there is more to ANY story than just a video clip and news reports.

        2. avatar JTNiggle says:

          Big B, I’m pretty sure the police had plenty of other options on this one. Here’s a picture of the location, the shooting occurred at the red X, police cruiser approached along the blue line, they should have came through the parking lot along the orange line instead.

          https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/9149804/Screenshots/Screenshot%202014-12-08%2009.48.24.jpg

    2. avatar Don says:

      This looks like SOP for a drive by shooting. Not for law enforcement.

      Whatever the hell happened to observing the suspect at a distance, and then using some form of logic and reason to deduce what they are doing BEFORE making contact a-la drive by gunfight???

      They ought to cut the police force in half, triple their salaries, and attract wiser, more intelligent, and self-controlled individuals to the force. The job should be 90% social psychology/risk mitigation strategies and 10% force rather than the other way around.

  5. avatar Hannibal says:

    “If you or your children have an Airsoft or pellet gun please sit them down and talk to them about this tragedy. Your children should have rules for “toy” guns that mirror the rules of a real weapon. Pellet guns and Airsoft guns should not be allowed to be played with throughout the neighborhood, common grounds, or used to threaten or intimidate people.”

    How is this not worth saying? How is this something parents shouldn’t be expected to teach their children? Even if you think the officer acted rashly, improperly, or without regard to life, the kid is still dead. Why NOT teach children that and actually PARENT them instead of just trusting another officer of indeterminate skill and judgement that might be called if your kid is out there pointing what looks to be a gun at people?

    Yeah, sorry, forgot: political correctness is more important than children’s lives. We’d much rather people feel good than feel bad and therefore do something different.

    1. avatar B says:

      Nothing wrong with the message. Its totally valid. Whats wrong is them publishing it as justification for murdering a person (kid or otherwise) within seconds of pulling up 5 feet away. They controlled every single part of this interaction, and its sickening.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        I didn’t see it as a justification… it’s a different department and different chief for one thing. You seem to be reacting the same way others did that prompted him a post with perfectly reasonable (one would almost hope common-knowledge) advice for parents in a world where kids kill people with guns that look just like these ‘fake’ guns.

      2. avatar Chip Bennett says:

        B says:

        Whats wrong is them publishing it as justification for murdering a person…

        …about a Facebook post that says:

        This article is not about this a boy losing his life, whether this was a justified shooting or, whether the cops acted too fast. This is about the Fenton Precinct making residents aware of a “hot” topic and learning from this incident so Fenton never loses a child’s life.

        Are you sure you’re commenting on the same Facebook post?

  6. avatar Nick says:

    A little callous, yes, but the point is valid. If your child is running around with an air soft or pellet gun (especially one with the orange tip painted or removed) they need to know how other people and especially the police will act.

    1. avatar Jake Tallman says:

      As a serious airsoft player (over $2,000 worth of gear, plenty of real steel gear, and who regularly attends large scale, multi day mil-sim games), I couldn’t agree more, and it legitimately pisses me off (and many of my fellow players) when parents fail to educate their kids about this, which reflects poorly on the rest of us.

      And that’s not to say that my guns have orange tips (they don’t, nor does pretty much any real player’s, as that high visibility blaze orange is liable to give away your position), but that’s not the point. A discussion of safe use is paramount if parents are going to allow their kids to own airsoft guns.

      As this event demonstrates, it’s not an orange tip issue either, but one of responsibility in general. For example, every event I attend is well away from any public space, and local law enforcement is always informed ahead of time, on the off chance a random person stumble there and is freaked out by the sight of 60+ people in full tactical gear, running around with M4s.

      It’s a great sport, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle it, and if parents allow it, they have an obligation to ensure that their kids handle it the right way. Anything less is just horrifyingly irresponsible.

      1. avatar John in Ohio says:

        which reflects poorly on the rest of us.

        Anything less is just horrifyingly irresponsible.

        Panty twisted, emotional collectivist bullsnot. Jesus H. Christ, when did we become Europe. 🙁

        1. avatar Jake Tallman says:

          Are you kidding me right now? Christ, read my damn post in it’s entirety before commenting. I was referring to airsoft players, not gun owners. And yeah, it does reflect poorly on us, right or wrong, in the eyes of those who know nothing about the sport.

          Do you actually think it’s NOT irresponsible for parents to give their kids realistic looking imitation firearms WITHOUT making them aware of how others (armed LEO’s included) might react if they don’t use them in a responsible way? Jesus. I suppose you also scoff at the idea of teaching people the 4 rules of gun safety? My god you’re stupid.

        2. avatar John in Ohio says:

          I read your whole comment the first time around. I quoted two specific things and commented about them. You are attempting to expand my comments farther than what they are. Please try to follow along. I’m not being the stupid one here.

          Back to the hostel, Sven.

        3. avatar Downrangefuture says:

          How is advocating taking personal responsibility for yourself and your children “collectivist”? Lack of personal responsibility is the heart of the social/collectivist movement, and he’s advocating the opposite.

          Overreact much?

        4. avatar Hasdrubal says:

          Are you trying to say that people being stupid with Airsoft doesn’t make responsible people using Airsoft look bad? Or that parents shouldn’t teach their children how to not be stupid with Airsoft? I’m not going to call you stupid, but your comments about the “two specific things” are flat out wrong.

          Collectivist would be if he said the government should be in charge of teaching children how to play safely, or regulate toy guns out of existence.

        5. avatar John in Ohio says:

          It’s not HORRIFYINGLY irresponsible. It doesn’t “reflect poorly on the rest of us.” This is collectivist drama queen bullshit. And that, ladies, is all that my comment was about. Now, go on back to the knitting circle for tea and biscuits.

  7. avatar brentondadams says:

    Wow they just rolled up and capped that kid…

    I hadn’t seen the video until now.

    That FB advice seemed pretty spot on to me. Course I just skimmed it, all my toys guns are real.

  8. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    Why in the hell was this guy hired?

    “The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that a 2012 letter from Deputy Chief Jim Polak, of the Independence Police Department where officer Tim Loehmann previously worked, labeled his performance as “dismal” and claimed he was “distracted” and “weepy” during handgun training. “I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies,” Polak added in the letter included in the officer’s personnel file, which suggested the department and officer separate.”

    Reportedly, whoever made the initial 911 call said the gun “might be a toy”. Not that it mattered much.

    “Loehmann shot and killed Rice on Nov. 22 less than two seconds after he and another officer arrived at a park, where police had been alerted of someone thought to have a gun. Rice was found to be in possession of a fake gun.”

    1. avatar Jake Tallman says:

      Supposedly, they didn’t know. Which, if true, is an even bigger issue.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        Yep. Did not do the homework.

        I tend to put as much blame on the officer in the driver’s seat for pulling right up on it. Rookie mistake…

        1. avatar Ralph says:

          Absolutely. If that kid was really armed, the driver would have rolled his partner right into the kill zone.

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Because he met the low-IQ requirement.

      To quote today’s kids: “Like, duh!”

  9. avatar John in Ohio says:

    The post conveyed the message that my officers respond to calls involving a child with a gun with indiscretion and little regard for life.

    That part of the Facebook post was too close to the truth. We can’t have that. 😉

  10. avatar Royal Tony says:

    That is more or less what my parents told my brother and I after buying us SAA style cap guns way back when. More to the tune of “some idiots might think its real, so don’t be a prick with it.” Pertinent advice. People need to stop being so damn sensitive about everything.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Maybe it’s just me, but I always get a little sensitive when a cop murders a 12 year old kid with a toy. Silly, I know. Cops certainly have a right to kill anybody that they want to, even children.

      1. avatar Grindstone says:

        A 12 year old child should know better! After all, they are perfectly mature with lots of worldly experience as to how others may perceive their toy!

        1. avatar Hannibal says:

          How about the parents?

        2. avatar Ralph says:

          @Grindstone, kids are stupid. Adults are supposed to be smart — except it they wear the uniform. Then it’s shoot first and answer questions 72 hours later with the union rep present.

        3. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          Uh, we don’t allow 12 year olds to vote, drink, drive or smoke.

          For mostly good reasons.

      2. avatar John M. says:

        And after all, all cops everywhere are responsible for that and nobody (except all cops everywhere) should take any instructive lessons at all from Rice’s death. Anything less would be victim blaming, amirite?

  11. avatar Javier says:

    In this particular case and because of it I think the Cleveland police should be retrained on tactics of approach and reconnaissance. Full gallop arrival on a potentially dangerous situation with bystanders near by seems RECKLESS !

  12. avatar Hasdrubal says:

    After watching that video for the first time, I have no idea WTF those guys were thinking. We go through horrible police videos in briefing pretty often to learn from other people’s mistakes, and that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen on film in close to six years on the job. I’m sure there’s worse out there (which is tragic in itself), but this is the worst I’ve personally seen.

    I am reminded of a training scenario from when I was in the Academy, where the call was ‘two people shooting in a rural area, possibly just target practice but the reporting person is worried because they see guns being waved around.’ I stopped the car about 75yards away, drew my blue gun and started yelling commands. The instructor stopped me and said “do you think that’s effective pistol range?” After an awkward pause, I said “yes sir.” After a longer awkward pause, he said “for anyone else, do you think that’s effective pistol range?” I moved the car closer (enough that the role players could actually hear me) and finished the scenario. Just talked them down and ended with no arrest.

    I hope they get charged this time, and I don’t say that often.

    Was this a kid who would be alive if he hadn’t done something stupid? Absolutely. Regardless, proper tactics and some damned common sense would have seen him live through his moment of poor judgement.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Well said Hasdrubal.

      I stated in a previous post about two weeks ago that people in general have trouble processing and acting upon verbal commands … which is even worse under stress and especially in children. For that reason alone, the response of those two police officers was totally wrong.

      Police should never roll up that close and almost immediately shoot after getting a vague “child with a gun maybe a toy” call.

    2. avatar JasonMfromSoDakota says:

      Hasdrubal-The main problem with police as you just described is the arrogance of cops that creates the false justification for pointing a weapon at some rednecks out plinking in the country. Folks in America have a right to shoot guns and carry them openly in non-nazi states, and we also have the right to not get shot down over some cowardly caller’s or cop’s fears of a gun. Shooting guns out in bumfukegypt is a fun way to enjoy an afternoon and it does not give a tax funded thug the right to threaten a law abiding citizen with lethal force by pointing a weapon at them. Real police officers would have heightened awareness(gun un-holstered in hand) along with some common decency by approaching and engaging in conversation not trying to escalate into a lethal encounter. The problem with thinking that you can harass and treat every citizen encounter as a lethal engagement is that eventually you will meet someone who will grant your wish and give you a brush with death and they may be better versed in the animating contest of mortal combat. Intellect will work more for you than force officer, but when confronted and confirmed with force show no mercy.

  13. avatar alexander says:

    From this and similar incidents, it is more than apparent that all cops need regular examinations by psychologists and psychiatrists. While being examined and between the examinations, they should not have access to weapons.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I see what you did.

  14. avatar ropingdown says:

    I reflect that it would be a very rare LEO who, upon hearing “shots fired” at a location, and with no other people in sight, would role straight up to the guy and start blasting. And it is this knowledge, born of some experience, which makes me very suspicious of the Santa Rosa and now the Cleveland incidents. I leave it to the pros to determine whether my inference is fair, that these fast “roll up and shoot” events with no report of shots fired are indicative of the LEO thinking “he’s not shooting yet. I’ll have the drop on him” character flaw…closing immediately with a threat that actually isn’t such a threat. I have yet to read of such a fast close-and-shoot on an active shooter, as opposed to an active brandisher. Critiques welcome.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      ropingdown,

      It is even worse than what you stated because the police did not get a “shots fired” call. Rather, they got a call of a child with a gun that might be a toy. Their response is totally inexcusable. Even Hasdrubal was critical of their response.

    2. avatar Roscoe says:

      Agreed, ropingdown.

      Regarding the…

      1st Police Statement:
      Hand wringing officious self-exonerating moronic statements on so many levels. Bottom line, if your kid goes out to play shoot-em-up of any sort and someone calls the cops, s/he will be shot.
      It’s not our fault. It’s not our fault. It’s not our fault.

      2nd Police Statement;
      We train for this, but if your kid gets shot, it’s not our fault. It’s not our fault. It’s not our fault.

      Excuuuse me, but a major element of policing is the ability to observe an event, assess the reality of what is taking place, and use good judgment in responding with an appropriate level of reaction and not simply instantly overreacting.

      Coppers are dealing with all manner of citizens every day. It appears this chief is wont to delegate all matters of citizen safety almost solely onto the citizen for their own well-being, regardless of age, intelligence and experience level. Of course it is true that Joe/Jane Doe adult or kid citizen must own responsibility for their own safety, but when inserting the dynamic of police intervention into the mix, much of that responsibility transfers to the officer because s/he is intervening to dominate the event in question. In doing so, the copper then becomes answerable for events that follow.

      This 12y/o’s shooting was a shoot first ask questions later classic example of poor approach, exposure to potential danger, and over-reaction.

      Deadly Keystone cops or John Wayne Syndrome.

      This Chief and his administration has been off the street too long and appears to have lost the ability to carefully select, groom and train the troops and keep them current with good police practices. Of course, maybe that’s acceptable in Cleveland area government.

  15. avatar former water walker says:

    THIS. Get excited about this. Or Garner. Not a thug in Missouri. I have a son who looks quite similar to the son of the mayor of NYC. I HATE to agree with him. I was in a nice neighborhood in Indiana last summer and noticed several kids playing airsoft. Out of 5 or 6 a couple guns had no orange or garish color. And yeah if you were an idiot you might think they’re real. 50years ago I could play war with me and my friends realistic toy guns. Not now. Parental guidance suggested…

  16. avatar Jack Fallen says:

    apologize? it was actually good advice. two words: butt hurt.

  17. avatar Don from CT says:

    Unfortunately, the original post was more truthful and, unfortunately, more correct.

  18. avatar DerryM says:

    The original post has some good, sound advice in it, but takes on a negative inference towards the end that reads something like, “if you (parent) have not done the above, then you have put your kid at risk should they be reported to the Cleveland Police, who will respond as if the “toy” gun is real, so don’t blame the Police if your kid gets shot to death”. While I appreciate straight talk, this was a little too matter-of-fact, hence, I guess, “insensitive” to Tamir Rice’s parents. Okay, I get that.

    The Police Chief’s “apology” was just public relations (propaganda relations) reflecting his embarrassment that this kind of thing was posted to the Cleveland Police FB page without his approval. Looks to me like the Chief had poor control protocols, or none, in place and got burned. The initial post could have been a good PSA, had it been reviewed by Police Management and refined a bit before release.

    Reading some reports about this tragic incident, it seems Tamir Rice was walking about pointing the Airsoft toy at other people, IOW brandishing it IOW being a stupid kid. At the time the Officers pulled-up, the toy pistol was in Rice’s waistband and he reached for it prompting Officer Loehmann to fire the two fatal shots within two seconds of their arrival.

    This is a lot like the case of Andy Lopez, shot to death in Sonoma County California a year or so ago. He was walking with an Airsoft AK-47 with the orange tip removed when two County Sheriff’s Officers saw him and stopped to investigate. They pulled-up behind Lopez and started shouting orders. Lopez turned to face them raising the toy gun as he did so and they shot him six times thinking the toy was real. He had another Airsoft pistol with no orange tip stuck in his waistband. He died of the wounds. He was 13 years old.

    If parents allow their kids to have these Airsoft toys, then they have a responsibility to insure the kids understand they can be mistaken for real guns and need to be treated as such, I don’t accept placing major blame on the Police Officers in these cases, particularly since both Lopez and Rice made motions that any reasonable person would construe as threatening. They may both have been “stupid kids”, but they both compounded their stupidity by making motions that conveyed the toy was a real gun. What are the Police supposed to do? Wait to see if the gun is real or not? We all know that could be a fatal decision because, if the gun is real, bullets could be flying in your direction within seconds. Last time I checked Police are not trained to “Take one for the Team” in order to be sure some stupid kid doesn’t get himself killed by mistaking an Airsoft gun for a real gun. The onus of responsibility falls on the not-Police individual involved in the incident, who should know in front that wandering about with a realistic looking toy gun in public could result in a tragic mistake by other members of the public and the Police.

    When I was a kid, yep, we played with very realistic looking toy guns in the 1950’s and early 60’s. In public, all over the neighborhood. No one thought much about it. Times have changed. Parents cannot be Cavalier about these things, Police cannot be Cavalier about these things. As in all things, no matter how much you wish things to be otherwise, you have to deal with things as they are, first and immediately. You can change things only when you understand how to deal with them as you find them.

    I am sorry for Tamir Rice and Andy Lopez, but the cause of their tragedies falls at the feet of multiple parties involved.

    1. avatar Alexander says:

      I can understand how a toy gun can be mistaken for a real one, but you are making a foregone conclusion that is some has a real gun, that is already a justification for killing him. Wow!

      1. avatar DerryM says:

        Not alt all, but if that is what you decided to infer, that’s your choice.

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      “… I don’t accept placing major blame on the Police Officers in these cases, particularly since both Lopez and Rice made motions that any reasonable person would construe as threatening.”

      I do place major blame on police for two reasons:
      (1) There was no imminent threat to life. While both children had realistic looking toy firearms, they had not threatened anyone with harm. Rolling up to conduct a felony stop with a hair trigger on a child who has not threatened anyone is wrong. Rather, the police should have observed from a distance and assessed the behavior of the children before coming in hot with twitchy trigger fingers.
      (2) They were children. Children lack judgment and the ability to anticipate the repercussions of their actions. This is yet another reason for police to approach cautiously and observe from a distance.

      “Last time I checked Police are not trained to ‘Take one for the Team’ in order to be sure some stupid kid doesn’t get himself killed by mistaking an Airsoft gun for a real gun.”

      Thus innocent children are supposed to “take one for the team” in order to be sure some nervous police officer doesn’t get killed by mistaking a young sociopath for an innocent child.

      Or, we could demand that police exercise some discretion and discipline!!!!! Unless a child has launched lead at people or verbally threatened to launch lead at people and the police have actually seen it themselves, there is no reason for police to roll up fast and hot for a felony stop with twitchy trigger fingers.

      1. avatar DerryM says:

        Thanks for your comments but I stand by what I have said. You’re just making excuses for bad judgement on the part of Parents and Children and trying to rationalize the current “It’s not your fault, it’s somebody else’s”, meme being taught to people and kids these days. These incidents constitute a tiny, insignificant fraction of Police interactions and do not deserve the overblown attention they get. Out of all the stupid kids out there with dismal parenting it amazes me that more do not get themselves killed for messing with the Police.
        Anyway, you can follow Unicorn Gospel however you want. You don’t need, nor will you get, my approval and likewise I won’t get, nor do I need, yours, and neither of us really cares.

        1. avatar LarryinTX says:

          Derry, I can buy that. As a result, I would suggest reducing all police budgets until “man with a gun” or “suspicious person” reports are not responded to, at all, ever. It must be “shots fired” or “robbery in progress”, etc. Go ahead and come in hot on every call. If you think your badge gives you the authority to shoot first and ask questions later, then I’m sure you’ll be delighted to never again be bothered to respond to a call in which your life is not in danger, or where you might be interfered with by that pesky backup. I’d guess reducing department size by around 90% would make your death wish very welcome. Feel free to shoot without regard to facts as soon as you arrive on scene. Anyone with any sense would quit immediately, and the populace would be SAFER as a result.

        2. avatar DerryM says:

          Larry, I like the way you think, but we both know reducing the size of PD’s will never happen.

          The point people here seem unable to grasp is that the right to defend oneself applies to everyone, everywhere, all-the-time. You cannot, therefore, say that a Police Officer cannot fear for his/her life based on what he/she “sees”. We consistently assert that if someone breaks into our domicile and appears to have a weapon and appears to be intending to use it to harm or kill us we are well within our rights to defend ourselves against an imminent, perceived attack. There’s no substantive difference between an ordinary person defending himself/herself in the face of an imminent, perceived threat and a Police Officer doing the same thing. Morally and Legally the right to defend oneself against an “imminent, perceived threat” is defined and upheld chronically requiring only a “resonable belief” as justification.

          Imagine, you are in your home reading late at night and you hear a window break or a door being smashed in. You grab your gun and go to see what’s up. You encounter an unknown person in your home who reaches into his waistband for what you “see” (perceive) as a gun. Are you going to stand there and ask him, “Is that a real gun? Are you planning to hurt me? I need to know so I can decide whether to defend myself or not because you know I would hate like hell to shoot you only to find out it’s only a squirt gun molded in black plastic to “look” like a Luger P-08, but I’d also hate like hell for you to shoot me, so you can see my predicament because if I shoot you and the gun’s a fake, I’m a schmuck, but if I let you shoot me I’m a schmuck.” If that’s what you would do and can pull that off without being shot, then you should be training everybody, provided you survived the initial encounter.

          It pisses me off that people here on TTAG will claim a right to defend themselves because the Police “cannot” and “are not obligated” to protect anyone and everyone, then turn around and deny Police Officers the same right because “they should have known it was only a kid with a toy gun”, or “they should have made sure it was a real gun”….”coulda’, woulda’, shoulda’ ” Bull Cr*p! I’d be eternally grateful if you can tell me how in the f*ck the PO does that with 100% reliability because no one else can. Maybe some day with technology Police will have that capacity, but today they do not. In the meanwhile occasionally a stupid kid/person does a stupid thing and gets killed by a Police Officer and it turns-out the death was a tragic mistake. The incidence of these events is statistically tiny, particularly when compared to much, much higher death rates from more preventable causes. Compare, for instance, how many High School Teen Graduates get killed every year during Graduation from stupid car accidents, which result as much from human failures as any of these incidents.

          So, i am saying what’s reality, and people don’t like it. Shit Happens. Always has, always will.

        3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          DerryM,

          Sure, police have every right to defend themselves like anyone else. Your example of a home invasion is totally and completely different from police rolling up to a call about a child with a gun that may be a toy.

        4. avatar DerryM says:

          Not in the moment that Tamir Rice reached for the “pistol” in his waistband because that is when the Police Officers “perceived” an imminent threat to their lives. The same with Andy Lopez and the same when Michael Brown attacked Darren Wilson and tried to grab his gun through the window of his Cruiser. What would you conclude in their position? That he was just going to show them it’s only a toy?

          No matter what the scenario, there is always that moment when one party perceives a threat from the other and must make a decision based on what they “see” happening in the absence of better information. In the cases of Tamir Rice and Andy Lopez the Officers made the wrong decision because they did not, could not, know if the weapons were real. It’s tragic, but that’s how it happened. A Grand Jury will hear the case of Tamir Rice and no charges were filed against the Officer in the Andy Lopez case.

          My contention is the pivotal moment is the same and critical mistakes can be made either way. Mistakes made on either side leading up to that moment will determine the outcome and neither party can be held exclusively at fault.

  19. avatar Anonymoose says:

    In Cleveland (or at least the suburb of Cleveland that I live in), it’s illegal to “brandish a replica firearm.”

    1. avatar Alexander says:

      “Brandishing” has a very w i d e defiinition. Since municipalities pass a total of about 40,000 new laws/amendments per year (cummulatively), no doubt that every municipality has at least a few hundred laws on the books that are justification enough to kill all of their citizens…

    2. avatar John in Ohio says:

      http://www.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/Ohio/cleveland_oh/cityofclevelandohiocodeofordinances?f=templates$fn=default.htm$3.0$vid=amlegal:cleveland_oh

      § 627.23 Facsimile Firearms
      (a) (1) “Firearm” shall have the same meaning as used in Section 627.01(b) of this chapter.
      (2) “Replica or facsimile of a firearm” shall mean any device or object made of plastic, wood, metal or any other material which is a replica, facsimile or toy version of, or is otherwise recognizable as, a pistol, revolver, shotgun, sawed-off shotgun, rifle, machine gun, rocket launcher or any other firearm. As used in this section, “replica or facsimile of a firearm” shall include, but is not limited to, toy guns, movie props, hobby models (either in kit form or fully assembled), starter pistols, air guns, inoperative firearms or any other device which might reasonably be perceived to be a real firearm.
      (b) No person shall display, market for sale or sell any replica or facsimile of a firearm in the City. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to any replica or facsimile firearm which, because of its distinct color, exaggerated size, or other design feature, cannot reasonably be perceived to be a real firearm.
      (c) Except in self-defense, no person shall draw, exhibit or brandish a replica or facsimile of a firearm or simulate a firearm in a rude, angry or threatening manner, with the intent to frighten, vex, harass or annoy or with the intent to commit an act which is a crime under the laws of the City, State or Federal government against any other person.
      (d) No person shall draw, exhibit or brandish a replica or facsimile of a firearm or simulate a firearm in the presence of a law enforcement officer, fire fighter, emergency medical technician or paramedic engaged in the performance of his or her duties, when the person committing such brandishing knows or has reason to know that such law enforcement officer, fire fighter, emergency medical technician or paramedic is engaged in the performance of his or her duties.
      (e) (1) Whoever violates Section 627.23(b) is guilty of unlawful sale of a replica firearm, a misdemeanor of the third degree.
      (2) Whoever violates Section 627.23(c) is guilty of brandishing a replica firearm, a misdemeanor of the first degree.
      (3) Whoever violates Section 627.23(d) is guilty of brandishing a replica firearm in the presence of a public safety officer, a misdemeanor of the first degree.
      (Ord. No. 90-96. Passed 3-18-96, eff. 3-26-96)

      But Cleveland keeps getting into lawsuits because they choose to ignore state law so your mileage may vary. 😉

      http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/gp9.68

      9.68 Right to bear arms – challenge to law.

      (A) The individual right to keep and bear arms, being a fundamental individual right that predates the United States Constitution and Ohio Constitution, and being a constitutionally protected right in every part of Ohio, the general assembly finds the need to provide uniform laws throughout the state regulating the ownership, possession, purchase, other acquisition, transport, storage, carrying, sale, or other transfer of firearms, their components, and their ammunition. Except as specifically provided by the United States Constitution, Ohio Constitution, state law, or federal law, a person, without further license, permission, restriction, delay, or process, may own, possess, purchase, sell, transfer, transport, store, or keep any firearm, part of a firearm, its components, and its ammunition.

      (B) In addition to any other relief provided, the court shall award costs and reasonable attorney fees to any person, group, or entity that prevails in a challenge to an ordinance, rule, or regulation as being in conflict with this section.

      (C) As used in this section:

      (1) The possession, transporting, or carrying of firearms, their components, or their ammunition include, but are not limited to, the possession, transporting, or carrying, openly or concealed on a person’s person or concealed ready at hand, of firearms, their components, or their ammunition.

      (2) “Firearm” has the same meaning as in section 2923.11 of the Revised Code.

      (D) This section does not apply to either of the following:

      (1) A zoning ordinance that regulates or prohibits the commercial sale of firearms, firearm components, or ammunition for firearms in areas zoned for residential or agricultural uses;

      (2) A zoning ordinance that specifies the hours of operation or the geographic areas where the commercial sale of firearms, firearm components, or ammunition for firearms may occur, provided that the zoning ordinance is consistent with zoning ordinances for other retail establishments in the same geographic area and does not result in a de facto prohibition of the commercial sale of firearms, firearm components, or ammunition for firearms in areas zoned for commercial, retail, or industrial uses.

      Effective Date: 03-14-2007

  20. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    Whether that’s a street or parking lot accessible from whatever park entrance is irrelevant. The issue is the police rolling right up on someone whom they have some reason to believe may be armed and dangerous. That’s just stupid.

    If the suspect really is a bad guy, then you’ve allowed yourself no room to maneuver and put yourself at point blank range of an armed bad guy with a gun already drawn. Very poor tactics.

    If the suspect is a good guy with a toy gun or some other way nonviolent, then you’ve likewise put yourself in such close quarters that decision-making seriously suffers for lack of opportunity to assess the information.

    Just like instructors advise would-be concealed carriers “Protect yourself as necessary if you have no other choice, but always try to have other choices”, well, these officers should have preserved options by not rolling right up on the suspect immediately. Really, had he been a bad guy, he could have opened fire on the cops before they even got out of the car and killed them both. Bad tactics.

    This probably isn’t legally murder, though, just because the intent isn’t there and can’t be proven. A lesser criminal homicide charge could well be in order. This needs to go to the grand jury.

  21. avatar bg from ferguson says:

    Within seconds of pulling up, he shot this young boy, if he had information on the call then this is totally illegal what he did. What if it was he kid?

  22. avatar BDub says:

    “Do not run away. They need to no longer have the gun in their hands, throw it away from them. They need to comply with officers instructions. They may be ordered to lie down on the ground. Clear communication between your child and the police is essential. Police need to know that it is a toy gun;”

    ….and all of this needs to happen in under 2 seconds. Thank you for your cooperation and compliance. See you at the funeral.

    “I want to emphasize that my officers respond to calls with discernment, and have the highest regard for human life. We train officers to take all facts and circumstances into consideration when making decisions about using force.”

    The security footage refutes that claim.

  23. avatar oldgreyguy says:

    Wrong Headline Bob. This was NOT St. Louis Police. It was St. Louis COUNTY police.
    People outside the St. Louis Metro area do not know the difference.

  24. avatar Arod529 says:

    Insensitive? Nonsense. They are taking the incident seriously and trying to help prevent more. How better to honor someones life than to save others through them.

  25. avatar Raul Ybarra says:

    Going back to the actual subject matter of the post, there is nothing in their general guideline that is wrong. When I’m teaching the Cubbies to shoot, I make it quite clear that BB guns or airsofts are still guns, regardless of the ammo they shoot. My expectation is that they are treated with the same respect as any other gun.

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