Imagine, say, you get a call for an armed person waving a gun in a park.
Here's what you don't do: drive right up to that person on muddy slippery ground to put your partner in an unprotected and defenseless position a few feet from the suspect.
I feel sad for the officer involved. He does have to live with shooting what turned out to be a non-lethally armed 12-year-old boy in Cleveland, Tamir Rice.
The problems here abound. The dispatcher didn't relay information that the caller said the gun was "probably fake." That could have have changed things. By my main problem with the police here is driving right up to an armed suspect. The only reason to do that is to drive into the armed suspect.
Why would you drive in a snowy park to put yourself on slippery turf within feet of an armed suspect?! It makes no sense. You should do everything you can so you do not put yourself in what James Fyfe called a "split-second decision." Because that is when mistakes are made.
So you park your friggin' car half a block away and approach on foot. Why? Because your aim is probably better than his. Why? Because you can suss the situation. Why? Because you can issue commands with distance on your side. Why? Because you might notice that it is a 12-year-old kid. And while that may mean nothing, it increases the chance you notice it's a fake gun. Why? Because you shouldn't be a lazy f*ck, you lazy f*ck!
So this was bad policing. But that doesn't make it a bad shooting.
You wave a gun, you get shot. That is the way it works. Because you can't -- or at least I wouldn't -- roll the dice with your own life. You can't give the person a chance to shoot you because then it's too late.
Also, what the hell is a 12-year-old doing out alone on a cold day pointing an illegal fake gun at people?! (It's illegal because the orange "safety" tip has been stripped off)?! Where did he get this gun? Could it be from his wife-beating father or drug-dealing mother? I don't know. Hey, didn't somebody ask: where's junior?
Oh, he's playing in the park.
I know it's not politically correct to blame parents. But seriously, shouldn't we blame these parents who did a lethally bad job supervising their son? Instead we blame the cop who had the bad luck to get a bad call and be riding shotgun with a another cop, the driver, who was pretty effing stupid. But the parents had far more time to make far different choices, you know, so their 12-year-old son wouldn't be out in public on a cold day waving a gun around. Shame shame shame.
Some have criticized the officer for saying the guy he shot was around 20. It's interesting to me that the 911 caller also never mentioned that the suspect was a kid. Here's the 911 call.
The video can be seen here.
What the video won't do is convince you how real a fake gun can look. But if it looks real. It needs to be treated as real. Not convinced, take a look at this gun. Real or toy?
Why it's a plastic toy. Can't you tell? No? Well, neither can cops.
That's a replica of my service weapon. It's probably pretty similar to what the kid had. And here's real Glock 17.
Can't tell the difference? Well, neither can cops!
So please do correct anybody who says this kid was shot while holding a "toy gun." This is a toy gun.
Update: from Campbell's comment, this is the gun that the kid had:
[Update: here's a later post on this subject]