Everyone Involved is the Cause of the Death of a 12 Year old Shot by Police

Leave it to the headlines to hype a story and cover only the obvious points while shaping the public’s opinion.  The focus has been that a 12 year old boy was shot and killed with a fake gun but if we were to dig a little deeper and ask a few more questions, we may find that the death of this 12 year old falls not only on the shoulder of the officer who shot him but all those connected and involved.  This is a row, we must all hoe.  The article is titled “Cleveland Police Shoot And Kill 12-Year-Old Carrying A Fake Gun” written by Zack Ford for the Associated Press.  The article reports that “A 12-year-old boy died early Sunday from complications after being shot in the stomach by Cleveland police. The officers believed that the fake pistol the boy had been brandishing on a playground was actually real.  According to Cleveland.com, someone called 911 describing “a guy with a gun pointing it at people,” but the caller twice suggested the gun was “probably fake” and that the individual was “probably a juvenile,” but none of this information was relayed to police. The officers arrived at the recreation center and ordered the boy to raise his hands, but when he reached for his gun instead, one of the officers fired twice, hitting the boy once. Deputy Chief Ed Tomba explained at a press conference that there was no verbal confrontation; the boy did not threaten the police officers nor point the gun at them. They only learned afterward that the gun was fake — a BB gun with the orange safety marker scratched off. Both officers, one of whom is a rookie in his first year on the force, have been placed on administrative leave, according to protocol.”

Now clearly many will ask about the rookie cop who shot this 12 year old boy while also demanding that he be held accountable.  Some may even try and go as far as blaming the entire police department for his death.  Others may turn their attention to a system of shoot first and ask questions later, while others will seek to lay the blame on our affinity for guns in this country.  All those are decent questions to ask and answer to seek but there are a few more that needs to be investigated that few ever think of.

Questions like, where were the parents and who this child has been exposed to thinking that it is okay to walk around the playground with a toy gun tucked in his waistline?  Questions like why the dispatcher did not relay to the responding officers that the gun was probably a toy and the waver of the gun was probably a juvenile?  Questions like, if the dispatcher did relay this information why the field training officer (FTO) of this rookie did not make a plan of action before ever engaging?  Questions like, why the caller of 911 did not do more to make sure that the situation could not have been resolved by making sure the gun was a toy and the man was nothing but a boy?

Bottom line, we all bears some blame for this death, the remains of this event with the family and the nightmares which will haunt this rookie officer for the rest of his life.  These are not and should never be considered isolated incidents.  These types of events are linked and find their common ground rooted deep in all of us.  From those who swear by anyone having to pry their gun from their cold hands to those who refuse to even be in the same room with one.  We all bear some blame for the loss of a life that was only 12 years in the making and the trauma that visited upon all those who happened to be present.  This is all of our row to hoe.


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