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Police release video of Cleveland shooting

November 27, 2014

Police have released video footage showing the moment when an officer fatally shot an African-American boy who was carrying a toy gun in Cleveland, Ohio. It comes in the wake of racially-charged protests in Ferguson.

Tamir Rice
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/Courtesy Richardson & Kucharski Co., L.P.A.

The surveillance video, released Wednesday, shows the police officer opening fire at a Cleveland playground within 1½ to two seconds of pulling up in his patrol car and confronting 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

In that short time he told the boy three times to put up his hands. The footage shows the youngster reaching for his waistband, then buckling over after being shot. Rice died in hospital on Sunday.

The shooting has stoked anger about police tactics and comes in the wake of unrest triggered by a decision not to indict a white police officer who killed an unarmed black teenager in the Missouri town of Ferguson earlier this year.

In the footage, Rice can be seen walking around the park playing with the gun, occasionally pointing it at passersby, then sitting down at a picnic table.

"It is our belief that this situation could have been avoided and that Tamir should still be here with us," the family said in a statement released by attorneys. "The video shows one thing distinctly: the police officers reacted quickly."

The patrol officer who shot Rice has been identified as 26-year-old Timothy Loehmann, who began his career in Cleveland in March. Both he and the other officer driving the car in the video are on administrative leave pending a decision by the prosecutor's office on whether to pursue criminal charges.

The pair was sent to the park after authorities received an emergency call saying someone was waving a gun that was "probably fake" at the playground, but the caller's doubts about the weapon were not relayed to the officers.

Anger in Ferguson

The Ohio shooting came as protests erupted across the United States over a grand jury decision not to prosecute Darren Wilson, the 28-year-old white police officer who killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August.

Protesters hold a sign "Black Lives Matter"
Ferguson protesters march against what they call racial profiling by the authoritiesImage: Reuters/E. Garcia

That shooting, in a mostly African-American community patrolled by an overwhelmingly white police force, generated a nationwide debate about race relations and law enforcement.

The decision sparked riots and looting in Ferguson, prompting the deployment of more than 2,000 troops, but the situation had quietened down by Thursday - the Thanksgiving holiday.

Large rallies were also held in several other US cities earlier in the week, with demonstrators holding placards such as "Black Lives Matter" and "No Justice, No Peace." More protests are expected to be staged over the weekend.

nm/tj (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)