In a statement released earlier today, one of the two Cleveland police officers responsible for the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice said that they believed Rice was much older than he was and they believed that he was carrying a weapon.
In the statement given to investigators, Timothy Loehmann says that he saw Rice “pick up an object and stick it down in his waistband” outside of a recreation center. Loehmann says he yelled “show me your hands” as loudly as he could to Rice. The statement also claims that the police officers thought the suspect “appeared to be over 18 years old and about 185 pounds” and was pulling out a real gun. It was later confirmed that Rice was playing with a toy gun.
“With his hands pulling the gun out and his elbow coming up, I knew it was a gun and it was coming out. I saw the weapon in his hands coming out of his waistband and the threat to my partner and myself was real and active,” Loehmann wrote in the statement. He adds that he followed his training firing two shots “based on tap-tap training, I shot towards the gun in his hand.”
Loehmann and his partner Frank Garmback were responding to a 911 call about a young man outside of the rec center who was playing with a weapon and pointing it at people. The Washington Post reports:
“Although the caller specified to the dispatcher that the person in question was possibly a child playing with a toy, that information was not relayed to the responding officers.”
Loehmann’s partner, Garmback, also issued a statement reiterating that he too believed that Rice was much older and carrying a gun.
The shooting, which was captured on video, prompted local protests as well as calls for both Cleveland officers to be fired. An attorney for Rice’s family called the statement “inconsistent,” adding that “objective video footage contradicts the officers’ claims.” The video, the Post points out, has divided legal experts over whether or not the shooting was justified.
A grand jury is currently considering whether or not to charge the officers.
Image via AP.