Cleveland Police Shoot Boy

Tamir Rice, a 12 year old African American boy in Cleveland was shot dead by police who failed to recognize that the gun the boy had was a BB gun. As tragic as this was, it is being compounded as people see this as a metaphor for cops being quick on the trigger, especially when the kid with the gun is black. A few years ago, a big, pudgy black kid was skulking in the neighbor’s yard. My wife alerted me to the kid’s presence. She said he had a gun . . .

At the time I thought I had seen the kid before – there is an apartment building a block or two from my house where I’d seen a number of black kids playing in the common area. What the hell was a kid doing in my neighbor’s back yard with a gun? I was about to call 911 when he turned, pointed it up into a tree and I recognized it as a common Daisy BB pistol.

I went outside and called him over to talk with me. He was compliant. I told him that he should not go into people’s yards without permission, and certainly not go into people’s yards and shoot squirrels. I took a deep breath and went ahead and said, “Look, if the cops see you with a gun here in the city you could get hurt or killed. Especially if you are a black kid.”

He was a quiet kid. To his credit he didn’t give me any guff. He went on his way after I suggested he go back home quickly and ask his dad, mom or adult friends to take him somewhere he could shoot safely, and not go around the neighborhood with his gun.

What I observe anecdotally is that in urban environments, especially among my black fellow citizens, is a lack of a lawful gun culture. In black neighborhoods, the two classes of people who have guns are criminals and cops. Generally, there is not much of a sport shooting culture. In cultural epicenters like Washington, DC, Chicago and New York the government actively suppresses lawful firearm ownership with onerous regulations and draconian enforcement – I was not willing to purchase a magazine for my M&P Shield at a gun show in Alexandria, Virginia lest I get pulled over when heading back to DC and finding myself in deep cheese with the Metro PD – and I was driving with Dick Heller!

The culture of lawful gun owners has a robust set of mores about how to handle a firearm (including air guns and such), when it is appropriate to use and display a gun, and the consequences of breaking those mores. For instance, while I am not required by law to tell the cops I am carrying during a traffic stop, I always do, keeping my hands firmly on the steering wheel. I’d rather the cop hear it from me in peaceful, dulcet tones that I have a heater than to discover it during a frisk and then have him wonder why I did not tell him.

I transfer this knowledge to my kids and grandkids (as do their parents). I teach them how to shoot early, beginning with Airsoft guns. With the little ones I tell them to leave any gun alone, even obvious toy guns that are not their own. I share with them the Eddie Eagle NRA safety lessons – if you see a gun, leave it alone and go get an adult. I drill them in the rules of firearm safety. As soon as they are able, and their parents approve, I take them shooting to de-mystify the gun and shooting. I warn them about how cops might react if they see you with any gun in public.

For my family and circle of influence, we do this gun culture download which in turn helps prevent terrible mistakes like what happened with young Tamir Rice. Between politicians suppressing the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans for decades and Hollywood building up a vast archive of movies and media showing absolutely appalling firearms management, it’s not a surprise that a kid with (I assume) no exposure to proper use of a gun winds up in public with a BB gun and then dead.

A lawful gun culture could have saved Tamir’s life, but there are cultural forces hostile to the 2nd Amendment that conspire to keep citizens ignorant of how to do guns right. They carry at last some burden for Tamir Rice’s death and the agony of his family.

46 Responses to Would a Lawful Gun Culture Have Saved Tamir Rice’s Life?

  1. This one is full on recklessness of this police officer. They didn’t even take cover till after the shot was taken. Shoot first ask questions later, if you can.

  2. The person who called 911 to report Tamir Rice stated that he thought the gun was not real, but that even so the kid was upsetting people by pointing it at them. So at least that one caller had a decent handle on things.

    Tamir should have been taught better. A lot of kids should be taught better about a lot of things, not just guns. All Tamir Rice did was to act like a foolish twelve year old kid, which is what he was. That’s why he was in position to be shot, but that’s not ultimately what killed him.

    What caused the kid’s death was a poor tactical decision by either the driver of the police car — who rolled his partner (the shooter) into an untenable position — or the shooter himself who may have ordered the driver to advance. Once the car stopped in a disadvantageous position, the shooter was forced to make a bad decision. It didn’t have to be that way.

    • But hey! – they went home safe. And – they got a vacation. “Paid” vacation.

      4. Crump posed several questions to Cleveland police on behalf of the family, asking why Loehmann is on administrative leave — which he called “paid vacation” — as the department investigates the shooting. Cleveland police said that Loehmann was placed on a standard three-day administrative leave and returned to the force in a limited capacity.

      Crump also asked why dispatchers did not tell police that the 9-1-1 caller said the gun Tamir was carrying was “probably fake” twice, and why police did not administer first-aid to the child as he lay shot on the ground.

      http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/12/tamir_rices_mother_says_police.html

      Police don’t administer first aid after they shoot someone. They may administer first aid if someone was shot, but if they shot them. – no – no first aid.

    • I’ve said it once before and I’ll say it again – I would rather take a bullet than chance the wrongful killing of a 12 year old. I might die, but I wouldn’t ever have to live with killing a foolish, but innocent child.

        • Was that their expert assessment as they were driving like the Dukes of Hazard through the middle of the park? All you did is show yet another facet of them being total azzhats.

    • The police rules of engagement are extremely screwed up if officers are allowed to shoot first without establishing a valid threat. This is a clear example, as was the police murdering that Walmart shopper in Ohio. Soldiers in Afghanistan aren’t given this much discretion.

  3. I believe a robust lawful gun culture would have saved young Mr. Rice’s life — assuming the responding officers were steeped in said culture. Unfortunately, the responding officers failed on many levels.

    • Indeed.

      In elementary school, each year, he should have been taught the 4 rules.

      I hope the new congress and senate drop a bill on the president’s desk to do just that.

      Local LE will be happy to provide officers for this.

      I want so badly to hear Obama’s excuse for not signing an actual gun safety law.

      • The cop did not follow the “4 rules”. He did not ID his target. There was no threat. The government employee should not have even been touching his weapon.

      • [Local LE will be happy to provide officers for this.]

        Um, no. We’ve seen how that plays out. “I’m the only one here competent to handle this .40 cal.”
        NRA instructors would be a MUCH better bet. Or Hunter Education instructors.

  4. The criminalization of all things gun related and the training of most police departments to shoot the instant a gun is in view for self-protection has created this situation and I agree that the anti-gunners and apologists are at least in some respects responsible. The fearful mindset of the citizens at large, the need for better training of the 911 operators (and most likely more of them in most areas, so they can take the time to properly ask questions) and the departmental training or pervasive attitude of police that every encounter has to be forced to a quick resolution with a subdued and restrained perpetrator all lead to many unfortunate outcomes every year for children and adults, especially those with mental issues that the police are trained poorly if at all to deal with.

    • “…and the training of most police departments to shoot the instant a weapon is even suspected for self-protection…”

      TFIFY

  5. Yes the situation could have been different. There are many problems to this but the major one is the gun had the proper red markings on it when it was bought and someone covered it up making it all black. It’s hard enough to try and pick out a BB Gun from a real gun but when you cover up the proper markings doesn’t that bring a bit of concern as to what may happen if that gun is in the public eye???

    • That’s not a reason to shoot, that’s a reason to stop at a safe distance and investigate the matter. They rolled in like it was a “shots fired” “officer down”, kind of situation…..it wasn’t.

    • Recent news stories have been showing up where the criminals have painted the front of weapons orange to make police hesitate upon site. Don’t see enough time taken to even look at the gun.

  6. A lawful gun culture absolutely could have saved Tamir’s life. Agreed, some of us here would have blown him away the moment he pulled out a object that looked like a gun (cough, cough, Chip). But it all comes down to assessing the situation.

    Just like the guy in the video underneath the gazebo didn’t run for his life the moment he saw the kid walking around “menacing” with his BB gun. Why is it that the guy didn’t freak out and run away???!!? Because he assessed the situation, realized screaming and running for his life was uncalled for.

    Yet the cops show up with their action movie style “let’s try to hit the perp with our car” and got scared when he reached for the BB gun, that lets face it, looks just like a real gun. But why is it that they could not assess the situation like the guy in the video sitting under the gazebo?

    Also, the bottom line – if any concealed carrier shot that kid when he pulled out a BB gun, they would be crucified.

    • >> Agreed, some of us here would have blown him away the moment he pulled out a object that looked like a gun

      Thing is, I very much doubt that a non-police officer would have gotten away with it, once it got to the jury.

    • Agreed, some of us here would have blown him away the moment he pulled out a object that looked like a gun (cough, cough, Chip). But it all comes down to assessing the situation.

      Actually, what I said I would have done, were I a witness to Tamir Rice menacing people in the park, was call 911 (for which other people called me a coward and other assorted things). You can go find the comment for yourself – but don’t let what I actually said stop you from making stuff up.

      Of course, that’s based on the imperfect information that we have from this perspective. Had I been there in person, and could obviously tell that it was an AirSoft pistol, or that he was not a real threat, I might have acted differently.

      The Monday Morning Quarterbacking is fun, though:

      – Say you’d accost someone about their unsafe practices, and you wind up getting accused of taking the law into your own hands (see: the false accusations against Zimmerman, George)
      – Say you’d stay away and call 911, and you wind up getting called a coward
      – Say that you can’t criminally fault the police for reacting to someone yanking up their sweatshirt and reaching for a pistol in the waistband, and you get called a boot-licker.

      A lot of things went wrong in this situation, and there’s plenty of fault to go around to everyone involved. I sure hope that if some of the people who comment here ever find themselves in a similarly FUBAR situation, they don’t have to face a jury of peers who are equally as judgmental as they are.

  7. I’ve always strongly believed, and argued, that firearm safety courses should be taught in elementary or middle schools much as Sex Ed and DARE are taught there. Schools should bring in NRA instructors to educate children on what to do if they find a firearm and how to safely handle one.

    While that may not have prevented the shooting in Cleveland it also might have. Imagine if this child had the rules of firearm safety ingrained into him, he may not have been at the park pointing the pellet gun at people. I also strongly believe it would save the lives of other children when they, their friends, or their siblings, find an unattended firearm.

    Of course, that is unlikely to happen. Anti-rights folks want the public poorly educated and reliant on the State to provide for them.

  8. I’m going to play devils advocate and post this cop hating video. I’m posting because some cop bravery, would have resulted in no loss of life here and that is what this video is all about. It is a bit funny – possibly even to the cops here on TTAG. I apologize ahead of time if you are offended and this is in no way is pointed at anyone here. I am completely aware there are some good cops, there are even great cops and many of them visit this site.

  9. Lack of lawful gun culture? How about lack of culture, period? You know, a culture in which neighbors know each other and, when necessary, correct the inappropriate public behavior of other people’s kids?

    What would have happened if a neighbor – any neighbor – would have approached the young man in the manner Mr. McNabb did in his story, rather than calling 911 over a frickin’ BB gun?

    Maybe if people cared enough about their neighbors’ kids to get to know them and talk to them once in a while, there might be a few less Tamir Rices to bury.

    • ^^^^^This

      When I was a youngster any adult in our neighborhood had a license to, and actively participated in, discipline of all the area kids. The parents of my closest friends even had license to spank.

      Says something about our society where an adult feels the need to “tattle” on a 12 year old instead of doing the adult thing and showing the kid the right way.

      Also, kudos to the author for keeping it old school.

    • I am indeed “that guy” in my neighborhood. I fussed at a kid for littering (he dropped his drink bottle 2 feet from a trash can). He was chagrined, made a wisecrack to save face (I let him) and threw it away.

      I also go punched in the head by a kid I told to let a lady take his seat (He was seated with a friend on a crowded downtown shuttle bus, then moved to an empty seat as a lady tried to sit). He and his buddies left the bus, and then circled around, jumped up and punched my head. I’ll bet his fist was sore!

      This is another difference between my “old school” culture and the p*ssified culture where every sodding conflict demands the presence of the police.

  10. In this life nothing is for certain. But given this exact case I’m going to lean towards the affirmative. Being raised to respect the power of a firearm tends to go hand in hand with personal responsibility.

  11. It was an Airsoft gun, not a BB gun. Someone–Tamir himself?–had broken off the required orange plastic safety cap from the muzzle. Even up close it really looks like a 1911. (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/24/boy-fatal-shooting-cleveland-police-replica-guns-marked)

    Be that as it may, these cops were a couple of damn cowboys and dumb ones at that. The guy driving the car should be fired for complete tactical stupidity. He responds to a “man with a gun” call by driving up about six feet from the “man with the gun.” How stupid is that? He broke every rule in the book.

    We can’t tell from the video if the rookie who shot the kid had his window down, yelling at him to drop the gun and get his hands up. But the video shows clearly that as soon as he exited the car and cleared the door he started shooting. He was so close he could have hit the kid with a rock.

    If these morons had parked their car at an appropriate distance and used the car for cover, things might have ended very differently. Likewise, it the kid hadn’t been waving the gun around at people. We can’t tell what was going through his head, but it’s no stretch to see him breaking off the orange plastic cap so his “gun” looks real and then practicing to be a thug by pointing it at innocents. On the other hand, maybe he was a few bricks shy of a full load. We just don’t know.

    There’s plenty of fault on both sides here, but the cops were trained adults and they handled the situation about as poorly as was possible. They both need to go, but getting rid of Cleveland cops is well nigh impossible thanks to their union that would back them even if they committed premeditated murder.

    • I was not aware of the tactical situation – it seems to me that the cops exercised poor judgement in getting so close to a person with a gun. Cops are supposed to close in on a suspect, but I don’t know what the damn hurry would be. I am an old bull, though, and I would rather walk and get all the cows than run and get one.

  12. that young man I hold accountable his family and his neighbors plus the police. Had his parents taught him proper firearms safety and his neighbors have the guts to go out and actually talk to him, confront him, as one might say, about it. He Would still be alive.

  13. I remember seeing a TV episode of one of those Hospital ER shows, a number of years ago. There had been a gang battle in some major city, Chicago? Detroit? any way. The scene in the ER is chaos as there had a number of gang bangers shot: until a black child (he looked around twelve years old) comes into the ER and pulls a pistol out from under his coat and deadly quiet suddenly descends on the scene. The child goes from bay to bay looking for a member of the rival gang to finish off, if they had survived. He finds the enemy gang banger, but he had already died from his wounds. So the gang banger puts away the gun away and walks calmly out of the ER.

    I tell this story as a reality check for people here on this site. Did this happen in real life. Maybe not, but the reality is that real children(fourteen and younger) are on the front lines in these gangs using guns to kill rival gang members. Some of these “children” have already killed and been shot at in return. I’m not saying this particular child was a gang member, Or that he deserved to be shot if he was. But human beings will adapt to the idea of “children” being active killers, when they are presented with this reality every day all around them and they will respond in kind, even towards a “child” when they see the threat of what looks like a real gun. Probably vets from Vietnam could more readily speak of this, or vets from the battles in the mid-east.

    In any of these city battle grounds, I am sure that police have been shot at or have heard of fellow officers being shot at in their patrols by twelve year olds.

    There is a war going on in our inner cities. I believe this child was a casualty of this war. Until we stop the “War on Drugs” and take the money incentive out of dealing illegal drugs, the real “children” (you know-fourteen and younger) will continue to be killed in this assault on our liberty and our lives.

      • Yep. doesky2. Don’t show how I’m wrong. Just attack, demean and denigrate. Attack the person, not the message. Classic tactics of the left and practicioner’s of the Saul Alinsky “Rules for radicals”.

        You doesky2, and the tactics you use to attempt to silence dissenting opinions are the greatest danger to our freedoms. I place you in the same arena as any leftist, statist, tyrant, dictator and just plain bully.

  14. This wasn’t the common daisy bb handgun that I used to have (looks realistic but is distinct if you recognize it). This was a replica of a 1911.This isn’t about the gun, it’s about violence and crime. Decades ago kids had realistic looking guns (maybe not quite as realistic) but there wasn’t much in the way of violence and crime being committed by kids.

    Sure, if someone had taught him right about how to treat guns he wouldn’t have been pointing it at people… but then if he had someone parenting him properly he wouldn’t have been in that area unsupervised anyway.

  15. Go online look at toy/BB/Airsoft ect.. Then put yourself in the park walking with your kid’s or wife/husband/other you see a youth no matter color here that is NOT what got him shot, the youth raises his outer garment while reaching into his waist where a firearm looking object is located (you have somewhere in the 3-5 seconds to decide what it is) the youth (no matter gender also not the reason for being shot) raises a firearm looking object (now you have 3/8’s to 1 second to see if there is an orange/red tip) that has no color on it. We also have to remember that the reason for the Police response is a youth with a gun, unknown whether real or fake. Go to one of the YouTube videos about response training for Police Officers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_s63oCwhJo

  16. We live about 30 miles east of Cleveland & it’s been on the local news a lot. As Michael said it was a BB or AirSoft gun, reports differ. Somebody called 911 about the kid and told them at least twice the gun might not be real, but the dispatcher never told the cops that. So the cops come roaring into the park, onto the grass, and the cop, Timothy Loehmann jumps out of the car and shoots the kid to death in 2 seconds. Then they hide behind the car for 4 or 5 minutes while the kid bleeds out instead of giving any first aid. If you’re such a coward you can’t deal with a 12 year old kid, you shouldn’t be a cop.

    It get worse, this rookie “cop” is full-blown nuts, certifiable …

    Cleveland officer who shot Tamir Rice had ‘dismal’ handgun performance for Independence police
    http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/12/cleveland_police_officer_who_s.html

  17. No, but I think a “protect and serve” police culture would have. That hit on the little kid looked like a clumsy drive-by shooting and could have been avoided using binoculars and common sense. I’m guessing these cops are about the same caliber of individual who traditionally conducts drive-by shootings, except not good enough to make the cut in that industry.

  18. I saw a teenager playing with a toy gun just yesterday. He and another teen had been running around their yard, but I didn’t pay much attention to them because, well, kids play. At one point, I glanced up from what I was working on and saw the kid raise a pistol and take aim at something around the corner of their house. I did a double take and realized the “gun” he was aiming resembled a Beretta 92, was dark green with tan splotches, and had a bright orange tip. I started to consider saying something to the kid, much like the writer of this article did, but his mother actually beat me to it.

    This also reminds me of the time my cousin and I almost got into big, big trouble. I had a cap gun that looked like a little black snubbie, and used the ring-shaped caps. My cousin and I decided to remove the orange plug in the end of the barrel and drill out the other end to see if that would make the flash come out the end of the barrel like a real gun. It did, somewhat. Then we got really dumb. We decided to wait until it was just dark enough outside to see the “muzzle flash”, but not too dark for us to be seen by passing cars. You can already see where this is heading, can’t you? We stood out in the yard, and as the first car we saw passed by, I shot the cap gun at my cousin and he fell down as if he was actually shot. The car slammed on it’s brakes. We both yelled “oh sh*t!”, my cousin jumped to his feet, and we ran for the house. The car pulled in the driveway. “Oh sh*t!” again from both of us. The car sat at the end of the driveway until we were inside, then backed out and left. My aunt had seen the car slam on the brakes and pull into the driveway, and us running through the front door. She asked what was going on, we claimed “nothing”, but she didn’t buy it. We were told to stay inside the rest of the night. She knew we did something dumb, and that we got an instant lesson that she didn’t have to teach.

  19. In MY neighborhood there are young black men walking around. If I see what looks like a gun I MAY call the cops. The kid in Ohio needed a WAY better mother( and a father present). I’m not dealing in theory-my neighborhood is going to hell. YMMV

  20. As several police officers have commented, the cop driving the car is as much to blame as his partner in the shooting of a kid with a toy gun. If he was making a call to investigate a kid brandishing a gun, surely he would have been more careful in positioning his car. Why, then, did he he drive within few fee of Tamir? Surely, even a rookie cop would have used the car to give himself and his partner some cover if he thought he might be facing a person/kid with a real gun. Could it be that the cop driving the car saw that Tamir was, in fact, holding a toy gun and simply pulled up close to tell him to go home? Could it be that he mistakenly assumed his partner would also see that the gun was a toy? If either possibility is true it just compounds the tragedy of a 12 year old boy’s needless death.

  21. No a lawful gun culture would not have saved his life. This was just a bad shoot. Where is the perimeter? What other potential unwanted targets are behind the young Mr. Rice? Why not use the street and the bullhorn in the car? Where is the time to ascertain that you are dealing with a pre-teen? There were about a half dozen small judgements (or lack thereof) made by both officers that caused this boys death and non of them could have been influenced by culture.

    If anyone here trains with their arm you know what kind of training it takes to unholster aim and shoot in the sub 2 second range… from a moving car… on uneven ground…

    Make your own judgements about what happened in the car.

  22. The kid in Cleveland was being a typical kid…..and kids do stupid things. That should not be
    a death sentence but today it is. And this is NOT the first time a child paid with their life
    due to a trigger happy cop. In this instance the officer did NOTHING but shoot the kid the
    VERY FIRST INSTANCE he could do so. No questioning, no commands, no attempt to
    evaluate the situation. They rolled up to within a few feet of the kid and shot him before the
    driver had a chance to even get the car in Park. This I blame on the miserable excuse that
    passes for training these days. The “No Hesitation” targets being marketed to police to inculcate
    a shoot first shoot often and shoot anyone and everyone mentality is providing the predictable
    results. The “go home at the end of your shift NO MATTER WHAT” mantra is evil and needs to
    stop. And finally LEO needs to stop screening FOR bully’s, sociopaths and mentally unhinged
    employees and return to the days where thinking and reasoning was more important than being
    an “operator”.

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