The family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed by police on Saturday, have requested Cleveland officials release surveillance video of the fatal incident.
In a letter to the city released on Tuesday, Rice's family wrote:
We respectfully request that Mayor Frank Jackson and the City of Cleveland Division of Police release the complete video of the incident involving our son, Tamir E. Rice, and two unnamed patrol officers on Nov. 22, 2014. [...]
The holiday season begins this week. Instead of the love, fellowship and joy the season brings to many families, we will be mourning the loss of Tamir. We looked forward to spending Thanksgiving with Tamir as a family. His mother's birthday is on Christmas Eve. Now, she won't have the opportunity to share it with her son. We feel he did not deserve to be taken away from us.
While we request the release of the complete video, we also ask for the media to give our family privacy as we continue to grieve and learn about what happened. We feel the actions of the patrol officer who took our son's life must be made public.
As reported by USA Today, deputy police chief Ed Tomba said the surveillance video is "very clear on what took place."
Rice was holding a black, handheld airsoft pellet gun when he was shot twice in the chest. He died at a hospital on Sunday. According to Tomba, one of the two officers who arrived on the scene was less than 10 feet away from Rice when the fatal shots were fired. The 12-year-old removed the toy gun from the waistband of his pants when the police approached him and asked him to raise his hands, but he did not aim the pellet gun at the police.
Police arrived on the scene on Saturday after an onlooker called 911 to report that "a guy," probably "a juvenile," had what he thought to be a pistol, though he added that "it's probably a fake."
A friend of Rice's family, Gregory Henderson, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he was shocked by the officer's use of deadly force against the child: "Why not tase 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."
Around 100 mourners and protesters gathered Monday night at the playground where Rice was killed, carrying signs that said, "Danger Police in Area" and "Police Terror: This Stops Today."
"We will not accept any excuse why this young man was shot down unjustly," Art McKoy, a Cleveland community activist, told the Associated Press.
Tomba said an investigation into the shooting is being conducted, though it could take up to three months. At the conclusion of the investigation, a grand jury will determine if the officer involved will be charged in Rice's killing. Both officers involved are currently on paid administrative leave.
Rice was killed two days before a grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.