Washington, Dec 9: The mother of a 12-year-old black boy shot dead by police in Cleveland after he was spotted in a playground wielding a toy gun has demanded the officers involved in the killing be prosecuted.
Samaria Rice yesterday told ABC television she expects charges and convictions after the death of her son Tamir on November 22, the latest in a series of a racially charged killings that have triggered protests in the United States. Rice has already filed a wrongful death lawsuit over the killing, but told ABC she wants "the police (to) be accountable for what they did to my son."
"I'm looking for a conviction (for) both of the officers," Rice said, challenging authorities in Cleveland to press charges in the case. Failure to indict police involved in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and in the case of New York father-of-six Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold, have stoked nationwide outrage.
Rice is being represented Benjamin Crump, who also advised the parents of slain Ferguson teen Brown. "If the Cleveland police is unequipped to deal with children playing with toys and toy guns, then we need to outlaw toy guns in Cleveland so we have no more children getting killed," Crump said.
"You can't kill children playing at the playground with toy guns a few yards from their house," he added. "It's unimaginable and we have to address this very seriously." Rice's demands came after US Attorney General Eric Holder last week said a federal investigation had concluded that Cleveland police were guilty of a pattern of "using excessive force."
It has also emerged that the officer who fired the fatal shots had been judged unfit for police service when working for a small suburban Ohio police unit in 2012. An internal memo from the Independence police department quoted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer cited an assessor as saying that officer Tim Loehmann had been "distracted" and "weepy" during firearms training.