In Brief

US police shoot dead 12-year old holding fake gun

Police launch investigation into the killing of Tamir Rice, shot after waving a replica gun in a playground

141124-tamir-rice.jpg

An investigation has been launched into the fatal police shooting of a 12-year-old boy carrying a replica gun in Cleveland, Ohio, on Saturday.

Tamir Rice died in hospital on Sunday after being shot twice in the abdomen by police in a playground in the city centre.

Officers were responding to a 911 call about a young male "scaring people with a gun", although the caller said the gun was "probably fake", according to Reuters. However, officers say they were not given this information.

According to a police statement, officers on the scene asked Rice to raise his arms. "The suspect did not comply with the officers' orders and reached to his waistband for the gun. Shots were fired and the suspect was struck in the torso," it said.

Rice made no verbal threats to the police, nor did he point the gun towards them, admitted Cleveland deputy police chief Ed Tomba.

After the shooting, police discovered that Rice had been holding a pellet gun that resembled a semi-automatic pistol. They said the bright orange safety cap used to distinguish it from real weapons had been removed.

The boy's family has criticised the police for its use of lethal force on a young boy they say posed no danger to officers.

"Why not taze him? You shot him twice, not once, and at the end of the day you all don't shoot for the legs, you shoot for the upper body," Rice's father Gregory Henderson told Cleveland.com.

The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave as the police department and county prosecutor's office launch separate investigations into the incident. Evidence will later be handed over to a grand jury, which will decide whether the officers' actions were justified.

In response to the shooting, Ohio lawmaker Alicia Reece vowed to introduce legislation requiring all replica guns to be brightly coloured or have prominent fluorescent strips, Cleveland.com reports.

"This bill is but one small step in addressing this tragedy and helping to prevent future deadly confrontations with someone who clearly presents little to no immediate threat or danger," she said.

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