November 28, 2014 2:30 pm -

In 1983, Los Angeles police officer Anthony Sperl shot and killed 5 year-old Patrick Andrew Mason when the child pointed a toy gun at him in a dimly-lit bedroom. The case became an instant cultural touchstone and dramatic cliché, reenacted in every cop show, and forming the crucial backstory for Sgt. Al Powell in Die Hard. “When you’re a rookie, they can teach you everything about being a cop except how to live with a mistake,” Powell tells fellow cop John McClane, a typical harnessing of this mythology to create empathy for the tough decisions cops have to make. The narrative also came to symbolize a public intent on “second-guessing” cops, and departments that hung them out to dry in the process. Sperl, years later, recounted how he was “forced to wear his blood-soaked uniform for five hours during his interrogation.”

A little more than 40 years later, that mythology endures, but the reality has changed in some dramatic ways. In the wake of the grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, the Cleveland Police Department has released video of another police shooting, of 12 year-old Tamir Rice. A caller to 911 told the police operator that Rice was pulling a gun out of his pants and pointing it people, but also said the gun was “probably fake,” and that Rice was “probably a juvenile,” although it appears the dispatcher did not pass this information on to the officers.

In the seven-minute surveillance video, you can see the caller in the gazebo at the beginning of the tape, as Rice plays with what turned out to be a pellet gun in the foreground. Six minutes later, the police show up, and almost instantly, Rice is shot twice, mortally wounded:


The officer who shot Rice, 26 year-old rookie Timothy Loehmann, says he told Rice twice to put up his hands, and that he fired when Tamir “reached” for the toy gun. In a press conference following the shooting, Deputy Chief Edward Tomba said that Rice made no “verbal threats,” and there was no “physical confrontation.”

The decision to release the video, at the parents’ request, has escalated public outrage over the shooting, as the video seems to show that Rice never really had a chance to surrender. Occurring so close to the Michael Brown grand jury decision, and after months of death raining down on unarmed black people, Tamir Rice’s killing is properly being viewed as just another example of the razor’s edge on which black lives rest. There’s a sense that if Tamir Rice had been white, he’d still be alive today.

That sounds like a snap judgment against a rookie cop who made a split-second decision…READ MORE[su_csky_ad]

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

62 responses to The Tamir Rice Shooting Is Rooted In Race Whether You Like It Or Not

  1. unmanned November 28th, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    I am so tired of this!!!!!

  2. rg9rts November 28th, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    As much as I dislike trigger happy cops…this one falls right in the parents lap…at age 12 when a cop tells you to do something you do it…I don’t care what your color is…

    • Mike November 28th, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      You cop murderer apologists are something else.

    • Kick Frenzy November 28th, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      Did you watch the video?
      Tell me exactly when Tamir had a chance to put his hands up between the cop car showing up and him being shot practically before the car was even parked.

      • rg9rts November 29th, 2014 at 1:47 am

        Ever hear of a window?

        • whatthe46 November 29th, 2014 at 2:20 am

          you’re trying hard, gotta give ya that.

          • rg9rts November 29th, 2014 at 3:00 am

            Waving a pistol around like he was is asking for trouble.. I don’t care what the color.

        • annaaurora November 29th, 2014 at 2:28 pm

          Wait, wait, wait was it not the 911 dispatchers job to repeat what the caller said to her. The caller baited this. You are wrong on this one. I agree the child shouldn’t have been acting like he was, sorry. We often forget that we white people want our black brothers and sisters to act and react as some our white culture would, well guess what it isn’t what this particular kid knows. It’s dumb, but he’s a kid.

          • rg9rts November 29th, 2014 at 4:54 pm

            When they are that size cops don’t ask for voter ID and waving a gun around speaks for itself

        • Kick Frenzy November 29th, 2014 at 6:17 pm

          Even if the cop was yelling to him from the car, the amount of time between them being close enough to be heard and the time the first shot is fired was barely enough time for Tamir to have any meaningful reaction, much less follow shouted orders from a charging vehicle.

    • tiredoftea November 28th, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      As there is no audio, what’s your basis for this, the cop’s stattement?

      • rg9rts November 29th, 2014 at 1:43 am

        I’ll take the cops statement based on the behavior of the child(?) waving a gun …the poat stands…a cop say to drop it you drop it

        • tiredoftea November 29th, 2014 at 1:50 am

          Unless he really shot first and made up a statement to suit the occasion.

          • whatthe46 November 29th, 2014 at 2:19 am

            BING. and it looked that way from the video, he didn’t appear to have time to talk, he just started shooting.

          • rg9rts November 29th, 2014 at 3:10 am

            Possible …running around waving his gun , toy or not is asking for trouble.. given the world we live in..maybe this will be the opportunity for parents to have that heart to heart about how to behave in public and when and where to flash a weapon…real or not….very sad but I still think the parents own this one

    • greenfloyd November 29th, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      I think you are a little bit right, and whole lot wrong, especially what you expect from a 12 year-old who was given little, if any, chance to comprehend the seriousness of his situation.
      Even though this is an incomprehensible tragedy, I would like to know more about this kid, Tamir Rice, and his family, his school and teachers. I especially would like to know how he come into possession of a replica gun that apparently had the required orange caps removed? Can a 12 year-old legally buy such a thing in Ohio?

  3. R J November 28th, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    While I get that many on the left are upset and angry over stories like these,and rightfully so,but when you growup black in America and you have seen this same story play out of the course of your lifetime,you understand that is just how life is in America for black men

    • Kick Frenzy November 28th, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      Yeah, that’s kinda the whole problem.
      One that needs to change, not just be accepted as “how things are”.

    • whatthe46 November 28th, 2014 at 7:24 pm

      so accept the fact that your child is likely to die for no reason other than the color of his skin?

      • R J November 28th, 2014 at 9:36 pm

        Accept it or not,the reality is that in America so long as you are a black male in American society,you can be killed by the police for not other reason than the color of your skin.

        • whatthe46 November 29th, 2014 at 12:49 am

          Many of men, women and children, stood up for
          their civil rights and died in the process because they refused to “accept”
          being treated less than. They did not
          die in vain. And the black males that have
          been target practice for the police force will not be accepted or tolerated. If the state and the city police don’t like
          the people protesting (and rioting) then they must accept that they need to
          change the way they treat black males in society. they don’t look at a white male walking down the street and
          think, wow, I wonder if he could be a “dennis rader?” but, see a black male in a nice car, he just can’t have a
          job. No, its not to be accepted.

          • R J November 29th, 2014 at 1:46 am

            While the soap box speeches are good, go out there and make the changes you wish to see happen.

          • whatthe46 November 29th, 2014 at 1:51 am

            what do you think is going on. that’s what protests and marchings are. and sadly you consider it a soap box speech.

          • R J November 29th, 2014 at 2:05 am

            No, I think what you’re saying is nothing more than soap box speeches, to me you sound young and you’re full of idealism, which is great, keep up the good fight. As for me I have seen this movie before, I know how it ends.

    • greenfloyd November 28th, 2014 at 9:59 pm

      A very sad and profound truth. However we do not have to accept it as a foregone conclusion. I am confident President Obama has the big-picture on all this stuff that’s going on. What I’m not so confident about is how much he can do to reduce the violence? We need something like a Reconstruction Era for places such as Feguson, MO, Cleveland, OH…

  4. Kick Frenzy November 28th, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    I didn’t want to watch the video.
    I really hate watching people die for any reason.

    But, I’m glad I watched it so I could see how heinous this event was.
    That poor kid didn’t have a chance to put his hands up before he was shot.

    Yes, it’s stupid to walk around with a realistic looking gun, pointing it threateningly in different directions out in the open with no parents around.
    It makes you look dangerous and it was the proper reaction to call the police.

    What wasn’t proper was the way the police handled the situation.
    They used no restraint and never tried to subdue Tamir in a non-lethal manner.

    Tamir was a little dumb.
    The police were criminally negligent of their duties and are guilty of murder.

    • allison1050 November 28th, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      “dumb”?? Tamir was a 12 y/o child how smart were you at 12 without knowing you I can assure you that you weren’t but yes the pig is criminally negligent since they view all Black and Brown people of any age as a threat especially if they’re male.

      • Kick Frenzy November 28th, 2014 at 7:52 pm

        Exactly… at 12 years old we can do dumb stuff.
        It’s not a surprise, but the way he was brandishing it would make me worry if I saw him acting like that.
        Unless, of course, I could see his face and tell whether he was gearing up for something serious or if he was just playing around.
        (My guess is he was playing… maybe looking for a squirrel.)

    • whatthe46 November 28th, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      why would they even pull up so close to someone supposedly yielding a gun around in the first place? they could see he’s just a child. man shoots at police and F.D. with an AK lives to tell the tale.

      • Kick Frenzy November 28th, 2014 at 7:54 pm

        That’s a good point.
        Do they always pull right up to someone with a suspected gun?

        “Hi, we’re the police! Please don’t shoot me while I exit the vehicle.”


  5. Snick1946 November 28th, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    The video has no fast forward.
    This reminds me of a situation I was in a year or so ago. I had a leg injury and was walking using a cane. I did not always need it but carried it when walking in case I got leg pain. I was walking one evening and was stopped by a cop who told me someone called 911 to report a guy was ‘carrying a gun’ through our nice middle class white neighborhood. He apologized for stopping me and I went on and only later did the full impact of what happened sink in- I could have been killed just because some moron just had to play junior G-man. The caller in this case seems to have tried to let the police know he thought it was not a real gun but the dispatcher failed to pass that along. I wonder if I had been a young black man..

    • whatthe46 November 28th, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      “…but also said the gun was “probably fake,” and that Rice was “probably a juvenile,” although it appears the dispatcher did not pass this information on to the officers.”
      still, this would not excuse the officers actions.

    • Robert Marcus November 28th, 2014 at 11:31 pm

      You’re kidding right? You got upset because someone called the cops and thought you had a gun. You didn’t get killed, the Cop didn’t draw his weapon and he even apoligized to you. Some Moron thought you had a gun, if he hadn’t called the cops and it was someone with a gun and they killed someone, then he would have had blood on his hands. Better safe than sorry. You people are the most irrational, illogical people on Earth.

      • Snick1946 November 28th, 2014 at 11:46 pm

        ‘You people’?? What ‘people exactly am I? Liberal, what? Yeah my episode ended well, I am WHITE. If I’d have been a young black male it well may not have. Or did you think maybe I was one of THOSE ‘people’?

      • mea_mark November 29th, 2014 at 7:20 pm

        And your time here is running out.

        You shouldn’t kill because you ‘think’ someone might kill. In America you are innocent until proven guilty. If you are not near certain and killing someone because you ‘think’, than you are doing anyone a favor.

  6. allison1050 November 28th, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    If the guy sitting in the gazebo was the caller I just have to say he must not have been that frightened since he appears to have sat watching for several minutes.

    • annaaurora November 29th, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      You know that whole dance really pisses me off. Both the 911 caller and he played that like a soft melody. They set that kid up like no other. She should be fired for not fully explaining the situation, he should be in jail for what… being a bastard.

  7. jasperjava November 28th, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    I’m sure that when conservatives watch this video they see that Tamir Rice is 8 feet tall and 400 pounds of muscle, “charging like a rhino” at the cops and trying to take their weapons, landing a mighty punch that breaks the cop’s eye socket.

    • Robert Marcus November 28th, 2014 at 11:28 pm

      FACT Michael Brown was 6’3″ 300lbs. “charging like a Rhino” was a quote from a Black Witness. Face the facts idiots, Brown was a stoned, angry, thug who just assaulted a store owner and then attacked a police officer when stopped. Those are the facts of the case.

      • William November 29th, 2014 at 11:07 am

        Face the facts idiot
        Darren Wilson is the exact same height as Brown. Further. Wilson reported that he was punched 10 times, then later claimed twice.(lying in a deadly force report used to be grounds for dismissal and indictment). Wilson was armed, Brown was not. It’s a good thing I didn’t shoot every single angry combative suspect I ever dealt with just because he outweighed me.
        BTW being stoned makes people passive not aggressive.
        Again, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

        • Robert Marcus November 29th, 2014 at 7:09 pm

          Are you a Cop, do you face angry 300lb Black Men who attack you and try to take your gun. Do you have people trying to kill you everyday? Brown didn’t look too passive when he was roughing up the store owner. The Forensic evidence is solid, Brown tried to take Wilson’s gun and it was fired twice in the car. I guess he wasn’t lying in the Deadly Force report or he would have been charged. Get Real.

          • mea_mark November 29th, 2014 at 7:14 pm

            He used to be. You don’t know what really happened, that is obvious from your post. Get Real, you are playing with the big boys here. This ain’t no right-wing site.

          • William November 30th, 2014 at 10:13 am

            Am now semi retired. I was a cop. sixteen years as a patrol officer. I arrested lots of big people. 2 tried to take my gun, one knocked a tooth out. Two with knives. One with a tire iron. One answered the door with a running chain saw. One pointed to his German Shepard and told me he could “make me go away”. There are more..Guess what? I didn’t shoot anyone, but then again, I didn’t panic just because someone was big and scary. Yes FORMER (thank God) Officer Wilson DID Lie. Wilsons own testimony indicates that the suspect took “one step” towards him. How is that “charging”? Wilson also stated in his report that the suspect punched him 10 times, then told the grand jury that he was punched twice. That’s clearly lying. In my department he would have been charged with sworn falsification and dismissed.


            BTW, Wilson had no knowledge that Brown was a robbery suspect when he shot him. Wilson simply lost his sh*t, turned yellow and went for his gun. Forensic evidence? Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha.

            Wilson went back to the station on his own, washed his hands (destroying blood evidence), and placed HIS OWN sidearm into evidence. Those actions are so far removed from even the most basic standards of police investigation, it would shock the conscience of even the most casual investigator. Essentially there is no chain of evidence for Wilsons gun.The ME couldn’t provide photo evidence because somehow the M.E.’s camera conveniently went dead (low batteries).
            Try reading something once in a while. Police work isn’t like what you see on TV.

    • William November 29th, 2014 at 11:08 am

      landing a mighty punch that breaks the cop’s eye socket.

  8. Robert Marcus November 28th, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Please, this kid was a 12 year old, not a 6’3 300 lb Man like Brown. How can you liberals argue with FACTS! How can you disagree with a Grand Jury who deliberated for three months, meticulously going over evidence. Liberals, never let facts get in the way of your emotional thoughts. This website should really be a spoof site, the claims are so preposterous. Warmest year on record OKAY!!, Its sad that this kid had to die but if you’re a Cop and you think you might get killed, you don’t have time to decide whether the gun is real or fake or anything. The man duty of a police officer is to go home to his family after his/her shift, not to be a mind reader. I’ve never read so much ridiculous, fraudulent, crazy, illogical, stupid comments in my life. Why would we ever elect people so ignorant.

    • jasperjava November 29th, 2014 at 1:48 am

      If it was YOUR 12-year-old kid it would be different. But it’s a Black kid, so who cares. He had it coming, right? It’s his fault for being born Black.

    • Tracker3 November 29th, 2014 at 4:46 am

      This site is serious?…I thought it was an arm of the Onion. Who knew?

      • Dirk Prophet November 29th, 2014 at 2:25 pm

        Not you.

    • William November 29th, 2014 at 10:59 am

      I spent 36 years in uniform, 16 of that as a patrolman. One does not simply exit their vehicle and shoot without forethought. Further. It seems to me that when white people point actual weapons at sworn officers it’s dismissed by right wing wacko’s as ” patriotism”. IE, the racist Bundy ranch fiasco.When a black child is merely in possession of a non lethal toy it’s officer survival.
      You have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • allison1050 November 29th, 2014 at 2:49 pm

      I really hate to tell you Bobby but 1’s political beliefs have NOTHING ok NOTHING whatsoever to do with the article but yours evidently do.

  9. jasperjava November 29th, 2014 at 1:58 am

    Funny how conservatives have no problem with “open carry” of military-style assault rifles in crowded public areas, as long as it’s white people doing it. When a Black 12-year-old carries a pellet gun in a nearly-deserted park, however, he must be summarily executed, no questions asked.

  10. Spirit of America November 29th, 2014 at 2:46 am

    Do you really want incidents like this to stop, do you really? One can generally tell the ones that do from the ones that don’t, if you pay attention.

    This is a problem that has more than one variable in it, as most political/social problems do. And until you accept that, you won’t be working to solve it; you’re actually making it more difficult to do so. And there are some that actually don’t want it to be solved; you can see it on any right or left site, any. Some people want to stay angry, some people want to have a ‘legitimate’ reason to hate, pure and simple.

    [(2+3) x (3+4)] + [(1+5) x (4+2)] = ?

    The ‘left’ solves their part as: 4×7 = 28
    The ‘right’ solves their part as 4×6 = 24
    Together they come up with 52. But the real solution is 71.

    Now, what happens is:

    The left checks only the right’s work and says ‘Hey, you’re wrong, your side is (6×6)=36, you’re wrong, don’t give me no crap I’m wrong, you’re wrong you dummy, stupid waste of flesh…
    (put in your favorite, much harsher terms like nazi, racist and such though. You know, the type of speech that is guaranteed to not help the dialog. This is one way of seeing who really doesn’t want the problem to end)

    And the right checks only the left’s work and says “hey, you’re wrong, your side is (5*7)=35, not 28, and don’t give me no crap I’m wrong, you’re wrong you dummy, stupid waste of flesh…
    (put in your favorite, much harsher terms like hater, racist and such though. You know, the type of speech that is guaranteed to not help the dialog. This is one way of seeing who really doesn’t want the problem to end)

    And then the left says “no, (3+4) =’s 7, so I’m 100% correct, screw you, you have nothing to offer cause you’re evil and I’m right and I don’t even want to hear what you have to say…

    And then the right says “no, (4+2) =’s 6, so I’m 100% correct, screw you, you have nothing to offer cause you’re evil and I’m right and I don’t even want to hear what you have to say…

    The hardcores, the radicals do this at every opportunity. And nothing gets solved. Cause both have some things correct, and both have some things wrong, and the hardcores can NOT under any circumstance admit they may have
    something wrong, and hardcores can NOT under any circumstance admit the others may have something correct, and the beat goes on, and on, and on… while people die.

    It has become so important for a large segment of society that their ‘side’ wins and is 100% correct 100% of the time that many are willing to keep that fight going by lying, ignoring, changing the subject, justifying, rather than actually save lives/correct the problem.

    And those people stand out, big time. And those that don’t call them on it cause they are of ‘their side’ only keep that kind of conduct going… while people die.

    How/why it has become so much easier to hate rather than care I have no idea.

    • Dirk Prophet November 29th, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      Okay, without the math, what is your solution to police killing unarmed black children? You are correct that real solutions aren’t put forward but you haven’t either. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

      • Spirit of America November 29th, 2014 at 2:36 pm

        lol, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours”… I’ll need to see id first…

        But, the first step to a solution is already in the post. Doesn’t matter what step 2 is until step 1 is accomplished.

        • Dirk Prophet November 29th, 2014 at 3:04 pm

          Ah huh, a one step mind. We must accept that there is more than one variable but after that, it doesn’t matter? Is that your solution? Really? After putting yourself above left/right politics and the accusing both of having no solutions I have to say that I am disappointed. Even though you demure, I will offer this.

          1. We need double police salaries.
          2. We need to triple their education and training.
          3. We need to quadruple their supervision and oversight.
          4. We need to limit the hours they can work in a week just the same as truck drivers and pilots.
          5. We need properly to fund this.
          A third world police force has third world police corruption. For police to regain social respect, they must have their place in society increased.

          Now I expect that you will not be constructive as you criticize my solution. People with no solutions are part of the problem.

          • Spirit of America November 29th, 2014 at 4:01 pm

            my my, how friendly you seem… why the sarcasm right off the bat? Does that help w/dialog? I see you decide to skip step 1 altogether, what a shame.
            The disappointment is mine, I thought you were serious there for a moment.

            And people w/out solutions aren’t part of the problem, those are neutral to it; people who immediately become combative are.

            Well, since you expect I will not be constructive, I’ll give you what you expect.

          • Dirk Prophet November 29th, 2014 at 7:06 pm

            I didn’t realise you were so sensitive. After being so critical of those on the left and right, I thought perhaps you could take a little yourself. I asked for your solution but you replied ” the first step to a solution is already in the post.” but didn’t say what that was. “Doesn’t matter what step 2 is until step 1 is accomplished.” but still, not saying what step 1 is even though I guessed and asked if my guess was correct. So now your feelings are hurt and will not say what your solution is because of my sarcasm. I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you have any solution at all. I am calling you out. Prove you aren’t doing the exact same thing you are complaining about.

          • Spirit of America November 29th, 2014 at 7:36 pm

            First, what does being sensitive have to do with you being insulting and/or sarcastic? I didn’t say it bothered me, I commented on your conduct. Being critical doesn’t entail being caustic, big difference.

            “but didn’t say what that was”…

            I honestly felt it was there for all to see. The whole post was what it was…. stop attacking the other side just to attack and look at both sides equally. Both have some right, both have some wrong. Until non-combative discussion starts, nothing further can happen, therefore, no progress.

            “So now your feelings are hurt” lol, there is not a thing you could type that would hurt my feelings… I don’t know you, you don’t know me so anything ‘bad’ you would say would be made up and you’re not important or influential in my life, in any way. That anyone could be hurt via strangers on the net will always boggle me.

            There, you called me out, you forced me to do something… I explained step one.. 🙂

          • greenfloyd November 29th, 2014 at 6:25 pm

            I like your list. Training is especially important, with more emphasis on developing people-skills and less on para-military tactics. IMHO a routine day in the life of cop should not require wearing a gun.
            There’s so much more though that needs to be done in communities like Ferguson MO or Cleveland OH to reduce crime and violence… We need something like the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War. But first someone needs to declare the “war” over and release the POWs.

          • Dirk Prophet November 29th, 2014 at 6:45 pm


          • mea_mark November 29th, 2014 at 6:58 pm

            I would add mandatory community service. People are less likely to blow someone away if they just helped them get a hot meal a week earlier. A connection to the community through real world help should be mandatory.

          • Dirk Prophet November 29th, 2014 at 7:10 pm

            Yes. You are so right. For a while community policing was making progress. For some reason, after 9/11 that all stopped. Back when police had respect, they knew personally who they were policing. Now the public is the enemy on the outside of the squad car.