Cleveland police on Saturday shot down a 12-year-old boy playing with a BB gun, reportedly mistaking the child’s toy firearm for a real weapon.
Police received a call complaining about a boy, later identified as Tamir Rice, pointing a gun at people on a playground outside a local recreation center, the Plain Dealer reported.
Two officers arrived at the scene and ordered the child to put his hands up. When Rice’s hand moved for his BB gun, one of the officers fired at the child twice, hitting him once in the stomach, according to the Plain Dealer.
Rice was rushed to hospital and died from the gunshot wound early Sunday, the paper reported.
Police told local TV station WKYC that details about the toy gun and the boy’s age did not reach the two officers dispatched to the scene.
“The officer had no clue he was a 12-year-old,” said Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association. “He had no clue it was a toy gun, he was kind of shocked. He was concentrating more on the hands than on the age.”
Authorities also said the toy gun’s orange safety marker had been removed and investigators didn’t determine that it was a BB gun until it was recovered, according to the Plain Dealer.
The two officers involved have been placed on administrative leave while the police department conducts an investigation, the paper reported.