WATCH LIVE: Officials update after at least 13 killed in Missouri duck boat accident

12-year-old boy carrying BB gun shot by Cleveland police

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

A Cleveland police officer responding to a call about a person with a gun fatally wounded a 12-year-old boy brandishing what turned out to be an air gun that looked very much like a real firearm, police said early Sunday.

The shooting Saturday afternoon came as the nation nervously awaited a grand jury decision on whether to charge the police officer who killed African-American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August.

The attorney for the family of the Cleveland youngster, who also was black, downplayed any possible racial connotations to the shooting.

"This is not a black and white issue. This is a right and wrong issue," attorney Tim Kucharski said.

Police were summoned to the scene outside a recreation center by a 911 caller who said someone -- possibly a juvenile -- was pointing a gun at people.

"There's a guy in there with a pistol, you know, it's probably fake, but he's like pointing it at everybody," the caller said, according to audio provided by CNN affiliate WEWS.

"He's sitting on a swing right now, but he's pulling it in and out of his pants and pointing it at people," the caller said. "He's probably a juvenile, you know?"

When the two officers arrived, the boy did not point the weapon at them or otherwise threaten them, Deputy Chief Ed Tomba of the Cleveland Division of Police told reporters early Sunday.

But he did reach for the weapon, Tomba said.

"The officers ordered him to stop and to show his hands and he went into his waistband and pulled out the weapon," he said.

Tomba showed reporters the weapon -- a large, black BB- or pellet-type replica gun resembling a semiautomatic pistol. An orange tip indicating the gun was an air gun had been removed, police said.

It wasn't clear if officers had been told the weapon was not a firearm, Officer Ali Pillow told CNN on Sunday.

Both officers have been placed on leave, police said.

The 12-year-old's name has not been released by police. He died early Sunday at MetroHealth Medical Center following surgery, according to the hospital and the family's attorney.

People who had gathered around the early-morning media scrum with Tomba hurled angry questions at him, accusing police of unnecessary violence.

"It's a toy gun and a 12-year-old," a woman in the crowd yelled as reporters tried to ask questions, according to video provided by WEWS.

While saying a thorough and open investigation was under way, Tomba defended the officers' actions in what he called a "very, very tragic situation."

"They were doing their job," he said.

Police shootings of African-Americans, particularly young men, have been under rising scrutiny in recent months following the shooting of Brown by a white officer following a brief confrontation in Ferguson.

A grand jury is expected to soon make a decision whether Officer Darren Wilson should face criminal charges in that incident, which resulted in widespread protests over police violence against African-Americans.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

3 comments

  • carol

    This is the kind of crap that “people” should be organizing and peacefully protesting” about. White and black! Hispanic, Latino, Chinese , whatever! I don’t even know this boy, don’t know his race, and frankly don’t care! In case your wondering I am white! I don’t believe a 12 year old who is playing with a toy gun in a playground, did not put his hands up unless he is autistic or mentally ill. 99% of 12 year old thugs are Not Playing with toy guns! Hello!!!!

    • Patrick

      Peacefully protesting won’t get you anything. This country has been kicking the american negro ass for over 400 yrs and you still talking about peace. Martin Lurther King was peace he was shot dead. So the peace speach is over.

  • Laura Lee Wojtowicz

    Officers are aggressive on the wrong cases, period! I am trying to figure what is in the head of a cop. I don’t really think a 12 year old boy would be playing with toy guns….he’s outgrown that stage. I wonder, if true, if the boy understands english? After hearing all kinds of stories like this, I believe manufacturers must get together and decide to make the toy guns a certain color ( pink, blue , gold, purple, white) so officers know they’re toy guns. I pray hard the child will recover. Too many young lives are taken, senselessly.