- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 23, 2014

A rookie Cleveland police officer shot and killed a 12-year-old boy Saturday afternoon after mistaking his airsoft pellet gun for a dangerous weapon.

Police were responding to reports of a man with a gun outside Cudell Recreation Center. Buzzfeed reports that the 911 caller said the gun was “probably fake” but scary nonetheless.

A rookie officer and a 10- to 15-year veteran pulled into the parking lot and saw a few people sitting underneath a pavilion outside, Northeast Ohio Media Group reported. The rookie officer saw the 12-year-old boy pick up a black gun off the table and put it in his waistband, Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Jeffrey Follmer said.

The boy did not comply with orders to put his hands up, instead reaching into his waistband to pull out the gun, police said. The rookie officer reportedly shot the boy in the stomach and torso. He later died from his injuries Sunday morning in MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, the newspaper said.

An “airsoft” replica toy gun is meant to be nonlethal and shoots pellets, similar to a BB gun. Cleveland police reported that an orange indicator meant to distinguish the toy from a real gun had been removed. Deputy Chief of Field Operations Ed Tomba said the child did not threaten the officer verbally or physically.

The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave. Mr. Tomba promised the investigation into the shooting would be open, the newspaper reported.

“When an officer gives a command, we expect it to be followed,” he said. “The way it looks like right now, it wasn’t followed, but we’re going to continue our investigation.”

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