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December 28, 2015

Grand Jury Declines Indictment In Police Shooting of 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice

In Cleveland in November 2014, police approached a young boy carrying what turned out to be a pellet gun at night. They quickly opened fire and killed him.

The fact that the kid was holding what appeared to be a real gun is a reason to not hold the cops criminally responsible. On the other hand, the shooting occurs so quickly after cops arrived on the scene one has to question such a precipitous decision.

A grand jury was impaneled to consider charges. The prosecutor himself offered the opinion that no charges were necessary.

The grand jury apparently agreed.

What might have happened is that the cops rolled up too close to the suspect, rather than approaching on foot from further back. It looks like they rolled into the middle of a situation, giving themselves only a short time to process it.

Jumping into the scene just a couple of yards from the suspect, they could not do common sense things like give a verbal challenge and command, or... just observe the situation.

They excuse cop shootings by noting that sometimes you only have a second to make a life or death decision. True. But here they themselves put themselves on an extremely short clock.

I think this is a pretty tough call either way. Yes, the kid had a simulated gun; on the other hand, it's not good practice to take two seconds to decide to kill someone. The kid didn't even have gun. The cops may have perceived danger, but that perception was false. The brief period of time between arrival and shooting short-circuited good decision-making.

I don't know if I'd call this criminal (I can see it both ways), but it seems to me that however way you cut it, you wouldn't want a trigger-happy cop like this patrolling your own street, so he shouldn't patrol other people's streets either.

And What If the Gun Had Been Real? I don't mean that as an exculpatory hypothetical -- I mean, if the gun had been real, why would someone carrying a gun be shot so quickly in an Open Carry state?




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posted by Ace at 02:47 PM

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