CLEVELAND (AP) — A 12-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun died from a single shot fired by a rookie police officer, according to an autopsy released Friday.
Tamir Rice was shot in the abdomen and the bullet damaged a major vein and his intestines, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner concluded in labeling the death a homicide.
Tamir was shot outside a city recreation center on Nov. 22 after officers responded to a 911 call about someone with a gun at a playground. Surveillance video released by police shows the boy being shot within 2 seconds of a patrol car stopping near him. He died the next day.
Police have said rookie officer Tim Loehmann believed the boy had a real firearm. They later discovered it was an airsoft gun, which shoots nonlethal plastic projectiles.
Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, said at a news conference earlier this week her son’s friend gave him the pellet gun.
A grand jury will consider whether charges are merited.
The autopsy said Tamir was 5-foot-7 and weighed 195 pounds. The report did not say how long it took officers to provide medical help.
A federal lawsuit filed by the boy’s family against the city and police said two officers waited four minutes before anyone provided medical help to Tamir.
The lawsuit also said the two officers acted recklessly when they confronted Tamir in a terrifying manner, driving within feet of him and firing within seconds. Samaria Rice said the officer who fired the fatal shot should be convicted of a crime.
The officer’s father has said his son had no other choice because he thought the weapon was real.
Several peaceful protests have taken place since the shooting, which has come at a time when police-involved deaths around the nation have drawn on spotlight on departments and their use of force.
Last week, the U.S. Justice Department released the results of a nearly two-year investigation of Cleveland police that found its officers use excessive and unnecessary force far too often. The report was completed before Tamir’s death.