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.

Non Violence, 1997, by Carl Fredrik Reutersward, Olympic Museum Park, Lausanne, 31-Aug-2008


Non Violence, 1997, by Carl Fredrik Reutersward, Olympic Museum Park, Lausanne, 31-Aug-2008

Non Violence, 1997, by Carl Fredrik Reutersward, Olympic Museum Park, Lausanne, 31-Aug-2008

More sad but tragically uncommon news from the U.S. yesterday; this time 20 elementary school children were among the murdered. Most stunning to me is that I’m not more stunned.

This is Non Violence, a 1997 sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reutersward at the Olympic Museum Park in Lausanne. I first saw this in August 2008, about two years after seeing another version (below) near The Göteborg Museum of Art. This morning it was the only image that fits Delicate, this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme. Delicate to describe the ‘debate’ about the ease of accessibility to guns in the U.S. And delicate to describe the bruised egos of politicians who continue to cower to the increasingly mad demands of the NRA and other guns rights advocates.

There’s nothing left to be said about a debate that’s long overdue.

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Americans Respond to Norway Attacks by Shooting Each Other


If you spent yesterday huddled in a corner with a bottle of vodka, crying and depressed about all of the massacre and death news that this weekend has brought us so far, well … you might want to get a refill on that drink.


Please, nobody give me any reason to update this list! Go hug somebody, plant a flower, bake a pie, draw a cat picture, play some badminton, anything. Just stop shooting each other.

Non Violence, originally uploaded by pirano.

LJ Pic of the Day

We’ll try to kick-start this daily chore again with this, spotted near Kinoklub Vič a few weeks ago. I’m delighted to note that the square on which it’s located is still called Trg mladinskih delovnih brigad, or Youth Workers Brigades Square. Recently renovated and reopened over the summer. [map] [now showing (scroll down)]

Nice gun!

Ljubljana 0168, originally uploaded by pirano.

News: Neo-Nazi Skinheads are Camera Shy


On Wednesday, a group of about a dozen neo-Nazi skinheads disrupted a roundtable discussion on hate speech, nationalism and neo-fascism at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana. On their way out, they reportedly broke a couple cameras, but on one the footage was preserved for internet posterity.  PopTV has video of the scuffle here. Anyone you know?

Some reports pointed the finger at a nationalist group, Tukaj je Slovenija, or This is Slovenia, which the group vehemently denied. “We are not an organization,” read a statement on its website, but rather an association of individuals. [Their website is here where, among other things, you can buy black t-shirts with dragon designs so you can dress up like neo-Nazi skinhead youths the world over!]

Related? Shock! Richard Poplawski, the man accused of gunning down three police officers in Pittsburgh last week, was apparently a gun-loving racist pinhead who hung out on neo-Nazi and white supremacist websites and firmly believed the Fox News line that Obama’s impending socialism would signal the end of his right to own and love guns.

At least it’s a lot harder to get your hands on a gun here.

UPDATED to add this link to a couple posts on the topic from Pengovsky, always worth a read.

(screenshot from PopTV video)

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Ammo Shortages in the USA

From NPR:

“It started the day that Obama got elected,” Johnny Dury, who owns Dury’s Gun Shop in San Antonio, tells NPR’s Michele Norris. “It is when everything just went crazy in the gun business.”

From The Casper, Wyoming Star-Tribune:

“It’s a political deal. Everybody’s worried about losing their guns and ammo or not being able to get it,” Wagner said. “There’s a huge influx of that right now, but our sales are up in all categories. Our sales are double what they were last year.”

From the Fort Myers, Florida News-Press:

Tired of having to cancel trips to the local gun range because he couldn’t find ammunition to buy, Patrick Naidl went on the offensive last week.

“I called every Wal-Mart from Naples to Port Charlotte and everybody was sold out,” the Cape Coral resident said. “The Lehigh store told me they were selling their last box when I called and that they only had it for two hours.

“Ammunition is very hard to find because everybody is stockpiling. It’s like the paranoia before Y2K.”

From the Detroit Free Press:

At Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare, salesman Tim McCall said the store had been largely cleaned out of 9mm pistol ammunition and was experiencing massive sales of .40 and .45 caliber ammo.

“Anything for personal protection is selling like crazy,” he said. “They’re also buying a lot of .223 and 7.6×39 Russian.”

Non Violence, originally uploaded by pirano.

January pic(k)s

This is a detail of this piece by Austrian sculptor Theo Blaickner at the Schillerplatz in Linz, Austria, one of a handful of my personal favorites shots taken in January. I’m not a big fan of guns but like how they look when very rusty. 

The rest of my personal faves, shot in Koper and Ljubljana, Slovenia, Linz, Austria, and Stuttgart are here.

Linz 009, originally uploaded by pirano.