The head of the Cleveland Police Patrolman Union on Monday got into a tense on-air debate, calling the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice “justified” and arguing the child was “absolutely” a threat to the officer who shot him.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber, the union president Jeffrey Follmer criticized Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins for wearing a T-shirt calling for justice in the killing. The union previously described the football player as “pathetic” in a statement.
But soon the conversation became heated. Follmer referred to the slain 12-year-old as “the male” throughout the interview and defended the officer.
“The video clearly shows, and by the officer’s statement, that they were justified in the deadly force,” Follmer said.
“You’re saying that the video clearly shows that the 12-year-old boy was an imminent lethal threat to the officers?” Melber asked.
“Oh, absolutely. I don’t know if you didn’t see it, but yeah absolutely,” the officer replied.
Melber stated that many have disagreed with Follmer’s characterization of the video, which shows a police car pull up to Rice — who was carrying a non-lethal pellet gun — and shoot the boy dead within seconds.
Eventually, Follmer dismissed Melber’s questions about excessive force and wrapped up the debate with a message to Americans.
“How about this: Listen to police officers’ commands. Listen to what we tell you, and just stop,” he said. “I think that eliminates a lot of problems.”
“I think the nation needs to realize that when we tell you to do something, do it,” he added.
Watch the clip, courtesy of MSNBC: