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NEW YORK (AP) — The mother of a 12-year-old Ohio boy fatally shot by police who believed he was carrying a gun said Monday he was never given a chance to follow officers' orders.
Samaria Rice said in an interview at The Associated Press offices in New York that her son, Tamir Rice, was shot before he could comply with police who pulled up next to him on a Cleveland playground. A rookie officer fired within 2 seconds.
Tamir had an airsoft gun, which shoots nonlethal plastic pellets.
Rice said she wants the officer charged with murder and she called on authorities to make sure young officers don't "ignore the training."
Police say officers were responding to a call Nov. 22 about someone possibly carrying a gun. They say Tamir didn't respond to commands to raise his hands before Officer Timothy Loehmann fired his weapon. The officers also meant to stop the patrol car farther from Tamir but the vehicle slid on the grass, the Cleveland police union has said.
Rice said she found out later that Tamir was handed the fake weapon by a girl at the playground. She said police put Tamir's 14-year-old sister in handcuffs as she rushed to help her mortally wounded brother that day.
Rice's attorney, Benjamin Crump, said in the AP interview that the two officers could have defused the situation — by talking to the boy from a distance instead of pulling up next to him on the grass and firing.
An internal Cleveland police investigation is underway and the results will be turned over to the local prosecutor, who will present them to a grand jury. The fatal encounter was caught on surveillance video.
Clutching Crump's hand, the teary-eyed mother said Monday she knew exactly where her son had gone before the shooting. After she made lunch for him, he went to a recreation center across the street from their home then to the playground that is steps away from his school. His 14-year-old sister was with him, their mother said, "and I told them to stick together and be safe."
The sister had gone to the bathroom when she heard a shot. Meanwhile, just after 3 p.m. that day, the mother heard a knock on her door.
"Two little boys came and knocked on my door and said, 'The police just shot your son twice in the stomach,'" she recalled Monday.
When she got to the scene, following her 16-year-old son, she saw him being held against the police car, with officers surrounding him while Tamir lay on the ground, she said. Tamir's sister was in the back of the cruiser, their mother said.
Rice said that when she tried to get close to her bleeding son, officers "pushed me back, telling me to chill out or they were going to put me in the police car."
Rice, who is black, said she long ago had "The Talk" with her children — as black parents call warnings to their children to comply with police or risk danger.
"My kids already know that they are supposed to cooperate with authority, period," she said.
She said her son was talented in sports and the arts and was loved in their community as someone who helped others.
"All lives matter, I don't see any color. I see boys," she said.
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