Cleveland police officers waited four minutes to give first aid to wrongfully shot 12-year-old

I can’t say that my entire stay in Cleveland has been pleasant. Not this week.

Cleveland Police today released surveillance video that recorded the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice. Rice is a 12-year-old boy who was holding what turned out to be a toy airsoft gun when he was shot by a police officer at a community park on the city’s west side on Saturday. Rice died early Sunday.

The video shows a police officer shooting Rice within two seconds of arriving on the scene. What I found even more profoundly saddening about the entire tragedy is that the two officers waited four minutes before delivering first aid to Rice who lay bleeding on the snow-covered grass.

Rice was shot twice in the abdomen at close range, dropped to the ground immediately, but received no attention until a passer-by assisted.

Rice wasn’t given first aid until a medically trained FBI agent on duty in the area arrived at the scene — Cudell Recreation Center on the city’s West Side.

Police were responding to a 9-1-1 caller’s report that someone waving “a pistol” at the park. The caller said it may be a toy and that the person was “probably a juvenile”. The dispatcher did not relay that information to the officers.

In an editorial published just a few hours after the surveillance tape was released, The Plain Dealer/ wrote that the police have some serious explaining to do.

The account Cleveland police gave of the shooting by a rookie police officer does not seem to match what the video reveals.

The police said two officers, responding to a 9-1-1 call, went to the park and saw Tamir take what they thought was a pistol from a table under a gazebo in the park and stuff it in his waistband. Police said that the boy was sitting with a group at the time.

Police also said that the officers told Tamir three times to raise his hands, and that when he reached for what they thought was a real pistol, he was shot.

The video, however, shows officers in a cruiser pull up within several feet of Rice, who was not with a group, but by himself underneath a gazebo. Immediately, even before the car stops rolling, the cruiser’s passenger side door opens, an officer emerges and fires at Tamir, who drops to the ground.

Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said the officers ordered Tamir to “show your hands” three times from the ajar passenger door, but it’s hard to believe that’s possible based on the video.

The shot that struck Tamir appears to have been fired the very moment the officer stands up after getting out of the car. If this is the proper technique for confronting an armed gunman, let alone a 12-year-old boy with a toy gun, one has to wonder what training manual they are consulting.

And more crucial questions:

Why did the officers drive right up to Tamir? Why didn’t they park further away, climb out of their car and shield themselves with a door or another section of the car, and then order Tamir to drop his weapon?

Indeed, many questions to answer.

The video was released at the request of Rice’s family. They didn’t meet with the press but did issue the following statement.

“We have seen the video that shows our son, Tamir, being shot and killed by a City of Cleveland police officer. It is our belief that this situation could have been avoided and that Tamir should still be here with us.

The video shows one thing distinctly: the police officers reacted quickly. It is our hope that the City of Cleveland Division of Police and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office thoroughly examine the events outside of the Cudell Recreation Center on Nov. 22, 2014.

Again, we ask for the community to remain calm. Please protest peacefully and responsibly. Your prayers, kind words and condolences have meant so much to us.

We understand that some of you are hurt, angry and sad about our loss. But let’s use those emotions in a way that will contribute to positive efforts and solutions that bring change to Cleveland, Northeast Ohio and cities across the nation as it relates to how law enforcement officials interact with citizens of color.

We thank the City of Cleveland Division of Police for making the video public. We will await the results of their investigation.”

Protests took place in downtown Cleveland over the past two days, in response to both the Tamir Rice shooting and in the aftermath of Monday’s decision of a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri to not indict a police officer who killed an unarmed teenager in August. More demonstrations are expected.

Mannequin Monday #26

Soccer player mannequin, Potosi

A youngster with his eyes on the prize in Potosi, Bolivia.

If you’re new to this weekly series, an attempt to create the largest repository of blighted mannequins on the planet, you can and should catch up here. Enjoy and do spread the word.

By the way, this image also serves as today’s Pic du Jour, the 315th straight. When you’ve got a few minutes to spare, you can catch up with some of those here.

Panama’s Sinking Islands

A small island of Panama's San Blas Archipelago

This is a small island in the San Blas archipelago, one of about 370 that make up this Caribbean group off the coast of Panama. The vast majority aren’t more than a few feet above sea level. According to scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, sea levels around the islands are rising at a rate of about three-quarters of an inch annually. At that pace, the islands will be underwater in the next 20 to 30 years. I hope to return before they disappear.

I’m finally getting around to processing and editing a few hundred photos that were taken in mid-June 2013. Just a month later news analyst and historian Juan Cole highlighted in his newsletter and website Informed Comment the plight that the indigenous Guna, or Kuna, community that live on the islands are facing.

The indigenous community of the Guna (Kuna) live on islands off Panama and along a narrow strip of its coast, in the province of Guna Yala (Kuna Yala). But global warming and sea level rise are threatening their lives on those islands, and those of Carti Sugdup (Gardi Sugdup) have decided that they have to move to the mainland.

They may be the first but they won’t be the last. Below is an onsight report from an academic team from McGill University studying the reasons behind the relocation.

We came to the Guna community of Gardi Sugdup because the village decided to abandon its island and move to the mainland. This will be a first migration to the mainland in more than 100 years. We will try to understand why that decision was made.

I’m aiming to post a few galleries of photos before the end of the week.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 314th straight, was snapped on 15-Jun-2013.

ISO 400

Visiting Auschwitz to Reflect on Death With Dignity

Zyklon B cannisters, Auschwitz

This week’s Der Speigel tells the story of a visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp by a group of 70 Belgian euthanasia practitioners led by Wim Distelmans, a doctor who also chairs the Belgian government’s Euthanasia Commission. The Purpose?

In Auschwitz he intends to reflect with them on the meaning of “death with dignity”. That’s also the title of the tour, which is printed on the program booklet. It has to do with existential questions: self-determination, fear and freedom — and what these things mean to us today. And it concerns how far we go, should go, and should be allowed to go.

The visit provoked ample protests in the run-up but that didn’t deter members of the group, composed of doctors, psychologists and nurses with first hand experience with death.

They are following Distelmans to Auschwitz, they say, to learn more respect for their fellow human beings. In Auschwitz they intend to find out why the right of the individual to decide over his own life is inalienable — and why people must be absolutely free to make their own decisions in this respect. Auschwitz, they say, is the antithesis of everything that they hope to achieve, and they are seeking to reflect there upon what it means to kill out of humility and love.

By way of introduction to the trip, Distelmans addressed the group the evening prior to their visit:

“We are here today to allow ourselves to reflect on dying with dignity,” he says. “There were protests before our trip. But there is no better place than Auschwitz to ponder the meaning of dignity. When we deal with euthanasia, we must also come to terms with its opposite. In Belgium we use euthanasia in the original sense of the word: It means ‘good death.’ That’s the problem. We will have to explain over and over that we intend the opposite of what occurred in Auschwitz.”

Indeed, Auschwitz provides a setting to ponder lots of things. A fascinating read.


Labyrinth of Lies is a new film examining just how difficult it was for the first trial related to crimes committed at the Auschwitz concentration camp to come to pass. This isn’t about the well-known Nuremberg trials, but rather the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials in which Germans prosecuted Germans for wartime-related crimes for the first time. And it wasn’t an easy process; well into the 1950s official West Germany wanted nothing more than to bury the past and move on into postwar economic boom bliss. Looked at nearly six decades later, it’s difficult to imagine that German citizens knew so little about the atrocities and that the majority of officials were in no hurry or under no obligation to tell them.

The film’s North American debut came at the Toronto Film Festival in September and is now in limited release through the fall. I hope to cross paths with it. Here’s Variety’s review.

In this video, Deutsche Welle speaks with director Giulio Ricciarelli and actor Alexander Fehling, who portrays the young public prosecutor who pursues the nazi war criminals in his midst.


And while on films, via Variety:

Andre Singer’s doc “Night Will Fall,” the story about the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps as WWII wound down, will be broadcast globally on Jan. 27, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Intl. Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The film, produced by Sally Angel and Brett Ratner, will air on HBO in the U.S., on German-French channel Arte, ARD in Germany, Channel 4 in the U.K., TVP in Poland, VPRO in the Netherlands, Channel 8 HOT in Israel, Denmark’s DR, RTVSLO in Slovenia, YLE in Finland and Norway’s NRK. Pic will also be distributed in Portugal by Midas Filmes.


Today’s Pic du Jour, the 313th straight, was snapped on 19-Jun-2014 at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Oświęcim (Auschwitz), Poland. More of my images from Auschwitz are here.

Autumn Reflections on Cerknica Lake

Slovenia's Cerknica lake in autumn

I haven’t posted an image of Slovenia’s Cerknica Lake, Europe’s largest intermittent lake, in over a year, so it’s time for a quick revisit. I like how the the reflections create several angles of color, a nice fit for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme, angular.

A little more about the lake, from a previous post:

When full, it’s also the largest lake in Slovenia, reaching up to 38 square kilometers (15sq mi). Even when it’s not, it’s still a gorgeous place to visit, even on a day as cloudy and misty as last Thursday.

It’s located near the town of Cerknica in southwestern Slovenia, about 50 kilometers south of Ljubljana, making it an easy place to reach. A little more info on Wiki here and on this Slovenian karst region site here.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 312th straight, was snapped on 24-Oct-2013. A couple more shots from the same day are here.

Fall in Love, Not in Line and 1300 Other Short Stories From the Ljubljana Fog

Fall in Love, not in Line - graffiti in Ljubljana, November 2011

Today’s Pic du Jour was taken on Ljubljana’s Resljeva Street three years ago today, a perfect opportunity to recycle the photo and the video below in which it had a starring role. It’s one of about 1300 shots I took during strolls through the Slovenian capital’s fog that week in an attempt to occupy my mind with something other than cigarettes.

I’m happy to report that I did manage to quit, and that I really liked how this mostly stop motion/ photo motion project, composed of the vast majority of those 1300+ shots and edited in a few hours, turned out. A breath of fresh air. Please enjoy. Would love to hear your thoughts.

For the Ljubljana-curious: most shots were taken in and around the city’s central Tivoli Park in mid-November 2011. And no, this graffiti no longer exists. At least not at this construction site.

| m u s i c |
Tarmac by et_
CC/ Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License


And for the record, today’s Pic du Jour, the 309th straight (!), was snapped on 18-Nov-2011 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.



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Mannequin Monday #25

He'd wink if he could.

He’d wink if he could.

Mannequin Monday hits the big two-five with this dude, spotted near the main central market in Potosi, Bolivia on 30-March 2013.

If you’re new to this weekly series, an attempt to create the largest repository of blighted mannequins on the planet, you can and should catch up here. Enjoy and do spread the word.

By the way, this image also serves as today’s Pic du Jour, the 308th straight. When you’ve got a few minutes to spare, you can catch up with some of those here.

On the 25th Anniversary of the El Salvador Jesuit Murders, Justice Inches Closer

Sunrise over the Gulf of Fonseca, El Salvador

Twenty-five years ago today US-armed and trained security forces in El Salvador murdered six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter during a grisly rampage on the campus of the University of Central America in San Salvador. It’s been inching forward at a painful pace, but justice is a few (small) steps closer.

From the National Security Archive:

Although the perpetrators have yet to be brought to trial for their role in planning and ordering the crime, human rights lawyers at the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) believe they are closer than ever to achieving some measure of justice. A case that CJA opened in 2008 before the Spanish National Court under the principle of universal jurisdiction is inching forward, with presiding Judge Eloy Velásquez ruling just over a month ago to continue prosecuting the Jesuit killings , despite the reluctance of the Spanish Parliament to allow Spain to pursue international human rights cases. Velásquez has indicted twenty senior members of El Salvador’s military for planning, ordering, or participating in the crime .

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The Vietnam Moratorium March, 45 Years Later

Rice fields in Vietnam's Tu Le Valley

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the nationwide Moratorium march on Washington. It’s always a good idea to remember one of the largest anti-war protests in US history.

Upwards of 500,000 people gathered in Washington DC in opposition to the ongoing war in Vietnam. Nationwide, the BBC reported, “The Peace Moratorium is believed to have been the largest demonstration in US history with an estimated two million people involved.”

That figure was almost certainly quite higher. But not up for debate was the event’s significance in the anti-war movement as middle class and middle-aged voters turned out in large numbers for the first time.

About 45,000 US soldiers would die by in Vietnam by the end of 1969. Vietnam would suffer more than 1.1 million war-related deaths between 1965 and 1975, the period in which the US was directly involved.

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