In the midst of the upset over the grand jury’s decision not to indict the two police officers responsible for the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, prosecutors have released a photo that may have played a key role in the outcome of the trial.
The photo shows the difference between a real Colt M1911 handgun and the toy gun that Rice “pulled out of his waistband and pointed” at two Ohio police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback.
The gun in the top left is a replica of the toy gun that Rice was playing with that day. It was reportedly missing the orange cap that toy makers attach to the barrel of the gun so that it can be identified as a toy.
Without the cap, prosecutors say it was "functionally identical" to a real handgun.
Loehmann claims it was fear of the airsoft gun that caused him to shoot the 12-year-old boy upon their arrival.
It certainly paints the picture one way. However, there are two important problems with this case that are directly related to that toy gun.
First, the onlooker that originally called 911 made two important distinctions: the toy was probably a fake, and the person holding it was likely a juvenile. Unfortunately, these distinctions were not passed on to the officers that rushed to the scene.
Second, the rookie cop shot and killed the young boy “within two seconds of the car’s arrival…raising doubts that he could have warned the boy three times to raise his hands, as the police later claimed,” according to the original report from the New York Times earlier this year. It later became clear after video of the incident was released that the rookie cop didn’t even wait for the car to come to a complete stop before taking out his gun and shooting Rice.
What could any cop surmise about the situation in merely two seconds? What could have prevented the death of a young boy playing with his new toy, had real police work been used?
As previously reported from multiple media outlets, the police department that worked with Loehmann back in 2012 noted that he was “distracted” and “weepy” during his firearms training.
"He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal," according to the letter written by Deputy Chief Jim Polak of the Independence police department. "I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies."
How could anyone expect a cop with that kind of background to make good decisions in such a situation? More importantly, how could a person with such a dismal reputation with a firearm get a job protecting the public with a firearm?
The answer is simple and horrifying: they didn’t know. The police department that hired him in Cleveland, Ohio didn’t even glance at his past records before giving him a position on the force.
Yet even after shooting a 12-year-old boy, point blank, within two seconds of arriving on the scene, the man responsible for shooting and killing an unarmed boy will not be held responsible. In fact, he gets to keep his job.
As John Legend tweeted earlier today, this is a true travesty.
Banner Image Credit: Reuters